The World's Fair of 1904 is also called the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, for it celebrated the Centennial of the Louisiana Purchase, an event in American history having an importance secondary only to the Declaration of Independence. The Territory acquired from France by this purchase embraced all the land lying between the Mississippi River and the crest of the Rocky Mountains, and its ownership by the United States made possible the extension of the nation's boundaries to the Pacific Ocean. No centennial was ever so grandly celebrated, for this Exposition was without a peer in history, and a visit within its gates was an event to be always remembered with pleasure and satisfaction by young and old alike.
Forest Park became a glittering expanse of palaces and attractions, drawing 20 million visitors and exhibits from 43 countries. Popular foods, including the ice cream cone and iced tea, were invented at the fair. Scott Joplin’s new ragtime music enthralled visitors, and the song “Meet me in St. Louis, Louis” summed up the most glorious time St. Louis had ever seen.
On the picture you can see the Festival Hall and Central Cascades. The building was 200 feet in diameter and 200 feet high. The auditorium contained seats for 3,500 and a stage large enough for the great choruses of hundreds of voices which appeared from time to time in the musical programs of the Exposition. The largest pipe organ in the world was a part of the equipment.
The great beauty as well as the massive character of this centerpiece (as well as the lasting impression of the kitsch) of the World's Fair will be long remembered by visitors. To those of us who could not have seen it, this picture must convey a lasting impression.
The Pike was a street a mile long, solidly lined with amusements, more varied, more elaborate and more costly than any previous exposition had ever contained. The broad interior street did not extend the entire length of the Pike, but turned south at the two ends, which made wide entrances, which with additional smaller entrances at convenient points. The Eastern entrance was marked with the statue "Cowboys Shooting Up A Western Town" by Fredrick Remington. In this famous street, some fifty entertainments had been installed, at a total cost of several millions. An army of attendants cared for these exhibitions, and people from far and from near contributed to the entertainment. When night came, and the exhibit palaces were closed, the throng was on the Pike. Everyone on the grounds, took a stroll down the Pike, to see the life and motion and color and light, to hear the bands and listen to the ingenious gentlement whose wits were sharpened in the competition for patronage, and whose vocal powers, assisted by megaphones, vied successfully with the brass bands.