1904: the destruction of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in Saint Louis

Tyrion

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Makes my blood boil to know these beautiful remnants of the past were razed. America was a such a cancer to this world. Let’s destroy these beautiful cities and make DisneyWorld instead as a consolation prize...
 

esgee1

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For anyone who has a subscription to Amazon Prime, there's a documentary about the 1904 St Louis Word's Fair available to view: The World's Greatest Fair.
A fascinating view of the largest World's Fair in history held in 1904. Hundreds of images, early film footage, and engaging interviews bring to life stories of dog-eating tribes on exhibit, marathon runners openly administered drugs, and the alleged creation of the ice cream cone and iced tea.
I haven't watched it yet, but plan to. But wanted to give everyone a heads up.

EDIT: Okay I'm watching it now. The documentary is a treasure trove of photos and films of the fair. So much information presented in the video. There's a lot of photos at the beginning about the building of the fair, and showing the cutting down of trees in the park.

What stood out to me is they recreated the alps and you could take ride up to the tallest peak! Also mentioned that this fair was the first time that lights were shown under water, interesting. There so much info do watch when you have time. You won't regret it. Cheers!
 
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HulkSmash

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If we wanted to build a complex this size, with this many buildings, with the same stonework and intricate design, with today's technology, how long would it take? Could we even do it? Seriously. I am not sure we could, or they would still do it. They are beautiful. We don't seem to make buildings out of stone much anymore, and not with the grandeur we have seen in the past. Something doesn't add up. Sure the modern day skyscrapers are huge, but most are pretty freaking boring if you ask me, and seem like they don't require as much skill creating them. Whenever I see these photos and videos discussing the multitude of expositions that were created in like 2 years and then destroyed, it really makes me wonder. I want some company to be tasked with the creation of a duplicate version of one of these expositions, and see if they could do it in the time frame allotted. And maybe even tell them they had to use only the espoused technology of the time.

Maybe this question has been asked before and if it has, I apologize.
 

sineNrise

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1904 St. Louis Exposition/World's Fair Construction


All of these images are courtesy of a periodical called "World's Fair Bulletin" that was published from 1900-1904. Subscribers were able to follow the progress of the World's Fair in St. Louis from the beginning of construction in 1900 until it opened in 1904. All of these volumes have been digitized by the University of Missouri and are available to be perused here:

World's Fair bulletin (Collection) | MU Digital Library, University of Missouri

If you'd like to go even more nuts, I'd like to direct you to a project that the St. Louis Public Library has been working on for years. They are digitizing 6,700 glass plate negatives that were taken by the official photographers of the Worlds Fair, many pertaining to the construction process. So far they have digitized 5,600 of the images:
CONTENTdm

 

KorbenDallas

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A little must-see video on the issue. Brings up a question of whether our photographs of breaking grounds were really made in the 1920s. UAP did a great job, as always.

The part about 2 discovered film reels was the most interesting (to me), and in a way telling.

 

Mulligan

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Hello folks, I'm the author of the Reddit post linked to above.

I find this to be an interesting subject so I've been going through what available evidence we have from the 1904 World's Fair. I agree that there are many worthwhile questions surrounding the various expositions of the late 19th/early 20th century, but I find myself particularly bothered by the UAP and JonLevi videos that seem to discount that there's any possibility that the 1904 World's Fair construction could have been accomplished when it supposedly was.

There's a lot of contemporaneous material surrounding the World's Fairs (serials, newspaper reports, bound volumes, etc.) and I've linked to some in my Reddit post, but what I'm particularly hoping to help people delve into more is the really astounding collection that the St. Louis Public Library has made available of digitized glass plate negatives from the 1904 World's Fair. There's something like 5600 pictures available, and there's still about 1000 slides that have yet to be digitized.

This is a direct link to that archive: CONTENTdm

They've done a great job of adding metadata to these images so you can search the archive for whatever you're interested in (construction, etc) or you can just browse. Without drawing any conclusions, I believe there's a wealth of information in these images and that they need to be seen.

I'm currently using this map (link) to get a layout of the fair and going building by building of the main 13 "Palaces" to get a breakdown of what pictures are available of its construction process, and then organizing them roughly into chronological order. SLPL has done a good job of dating the pictures, and some have actual dates marked on the slides themselves, but this has been a time consuming process and takes a little bit of guesswork. I've documented dates in these Imgur albums where applicable.

So far I've completed galleries for four of the buildings:

The Palace of Varied Industries:

The Palace of Machinery:

The Palace of Transportation:

The Palace of Fine Arts:

I intend to do this for all 13 buildings, and I'll update with links in this thread as I progress.

One thing that jumps out right away is that the only building still extant from the 1904 World's Fair, the Palace of Fine Arts (currently the St. Louis Art Museum) does NOT have nearly as many pictures of its construction as the other "temporary" palaces. I believe I've demonstrated in its gallery the digging of the foundation and enough showing its construction, but I understand that's going to bother some people. I have a few theories as to why it's less documented, and it's important to keep in mind that there are still about 1000 slides yet to be digitized that could possibly just ALL be Palace of Fine Arts construction pictures.

Anyway, I think this archive is very valuable and hopefully the folks here find this work fascinating!
 

whitewave

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Two more tonight. Seven more to go.

Palace of Education and Social Industry:

Electricity Building/Palace of Electricity and Machinery:
Pictures didn't load for me. They did in your first post but not in this one. :( When I hit "reply" and posted, they showed up on my reply but I'm still not seeing them on yours. Weird.
 

Mulligan

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Pictures didn't load for me. They did in your first post but not in this one. :( When I hit "reply" and posted, they showed up on my reply but I'm still not seeing them on yours. Weird.
Whoops! I must have messed up the link formatting somehow. I think they’re fixed now?
 

AgentOrange5

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Wow. I just watched the documentary on Amazon about this fair (I got the link from a thread here last night....I thought it was in this thread, but now I can't find it, so it must have been a different thread.)


Incredible documentary (although it doesn't make much of a case for the fair having been quickly built to be temporary.) It does show the incredible grandeur and scope of the fair. The height of the buildings was incredible.

Even if just temporary (and the giant ferris wheel that was destroyed certainly wasn't temporary), it is a travesty that it was all destroyed. Even more so to think if these were ancient buildings. I can't imagine the mentality that would destroy these buildings, how incredibly wasteful. And yet we are told that people back then were less wasteful than us today?

Once again, none of this makes any sense. Normal war victors want the spoils of war for themselves, they don't destroy the spoils of war. This tells us whatever is going on, it is not a normal human war conquest.
 

jd755

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Not making sense is this one from that most excellent site.

crane.jpg


The caption reckons the crane on the ground weighs 40 tonnes. So presumably the crane on the rails doing the lifting weighs 40 tonnes as well. As its only lifting half a crane lets say that's a total of 60 tonnes being transferred to those temporary wooden columns, which is staggering.

I have walked along very similar cranes in situ on top of steel columns, dating to the 1920's, and their maximum lift was 25 tonnes. Which means their designed lift is 50 tonnes. Not sure these days whether that was a reduction in lift due to their age (I was on them in the late 70's early 80's) I rather feel it was. So a 20 tonnes lift is safe.
Thing is I was present when several of them were removed and the process is not easy and very skillful. A space is cleared under the overhead crane at one end of the shop and in comes a big mobile crane to do the removal. Always did wonder how they put them up there in the first place.
Once slung the mobile lifts the overhead off of the tracks by a few inches then the men on the ground turn it by rope through a few degrees and down it comes under the roof palings then it stops and is turned a full 90 degrees to the rails it was sat on and dropped onto the ground.
Cannot recall the lifting capacity of the mobile, to long ago sadly.

Point is the overhead in that image is lifting half an overhead crane one wonders why?
Is it gong to help in the on ground assembly of the full overhead?
It cannot lift it onto the rails it itself is sitting on so what its doing with it other than posing for a photograph is a mystery.

The thing that got the 'lifting overhead' up there is probably the mobile crane on rails according to that site a crane powered by steam if the image is any guide.

traveller.jpg


Fine but what is powering the overhead in the first image?
The cranes I walked along dating from the 20's were electrically powered from a pair of bare metal busbars that ran the length of the shop. The crane had sprung copper roller connectors and these travelled along the busbars as the crane moved up and down. All motion on the crane was by electric motors powering the winch and the drive shaft that turned the wheels.

So what is powering the overhead in the picture?
There are no busbars I can see, no steam engine generator I can see and the logistics of firing a steam engine seem to exclude the possibility.
The only wire I can see is the one supplying the hanging light to the left of the image.

And finally I mentioned elsewhere that deforestation is likely to be a probable cause of mudfloods well clock the amount of timber in that structure alone and the length of the straight bits. That is 'old growth' forest we are looking at. Where in America it came from I don't know but it arrived by rail if that is any sort of clue.
 

HulkSmash

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What would be the purpose of taking the time and resources to put together such a grand scale building site just to tear it down? These photos, well they do 'appear' real enough to me, just make me wonder why we would do such a thing. It was an awful lot of man power and wood resources. I dunno, I am confused also. Something doesn't seem right. Was it to show the world that we could create all those grandiose buildings we see all over the world, like a giant illusionist trick? Because that's what it was, right? All these expo buildings are giant 'replicas', made to look the style of what we are labeling 'Tartarian'. No? Kind of like "see world, we did create San Francisco in 30 years, we can create humongous, grandiose, intricate buildings". We were faking the style, making it look like it was stonework, like the actual 'Tartarian' buildings were. That create the perception thing again, methinks. Seems like another cover-up of sorts, because to create such a project, in all the cities that apparently did it the same way, just doesn't make any logical sense. Crazy wasteful, unless the perception thing was just that important.
 

WarningGuy

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What would be the purpose of taking the time and resources to put together such a grand scale building site just to tear it down? These photos, well they do 'appear' real enough to me, just make me wonder why we would do such a thing. It was an awful lot of man power and wood resources. I dunno, I am confused also. Something doesn't seem right. Was it to show the world that we could create all those grandiose buildings we see all over the world, like a giant illusionist trick? Because that's what it was, right? All these expo buildings are giant 'replicas', made to look the style of what we are labeling 'Tartarian'. No? Kind of like "see world, we did create San Francisco in 30 years, we can create humongous, grandiose, intricate buildings". We were faking the style, making it look like it was stonework, like the actual 'Tartarian' buildings were. That create the perception thing again, methinks. Seems like another cover-up of sorts, because to create such a project, in all the cities that apparently did it the same way, just doesn't make any logical sense. Crazy wasteful, unless the perception thing was just that important.
Yes what a waste of timber and man power to spend on something that does not even last a year yet it takes four years to build how crazy. Its quite strange that these photos have just come to light too. If more photos of other world fairs come of it i will have to think all this through again but somehow i don't think that will happen.
 

jd755

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More from that site.
This one is a Westinghouse generator 'being installed' according to the caption. Certainly looks like it but why the word 'installed' unless its the thing that powered the lights. In the background is the overhead crane and it would appear it's actually used to move the machinery.
Of interest to little old me is the other crane, now assembled, still on the ground but that odd upright tower behind it, could it be a massive jack on rails used to lift the cranes up onto their rails?
If it's wood it doesn't look strong enough. See the crane rail ends just about where the 'jack type thing is' but still no sign of how the crane on the rails gets its power.

westinghouse.jpg


The visible power supply missing in this one is there now, its the pair of bare wires on the right hand track. Just look at how massive the machinery is as well.

2cranes.jpg


Now for something not that massive but according to the caption 'too big to be housed inside' a capped pyramid of copper ore and two other structures that are not mentioned.

pyra.jpg


The elegance, grace and style of yesteryear, whenever that was. What happened to it?

boaty.jpg
 
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Mulligan

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Yes what a waste of timber and man power to spend on something that does not even last a year yet it takes four years to build how crazy. Its quite strange that these photos have just come to light too. If more photos of other world fairs come of it i will have to think all this through again but somehow i don't think that will happen.
I have assembled a gallery of 150 images from the 1893 Chicago World's Fair here:
These are all collected from the Art Institute of Chicago's Ryerson & Burnham library's digital archive here.

I've organized this gallery roughly building by building and it's not going to be nearly as thorough as what I'm doing for the 1904 World's Fair, but that's just working with what's available. The digital archive for the 1904 World's Fair is just an extraordinary collection. The images are being digitized from a collection of 8x10 glass plate negatives, so the level of detail is really unmatched from any other digital collection that I'm finding online. The 1893 pictures all seem to be from photographic prints, for example, and we're talking hundreds of photos rather than thousands from the SLPL archive.

Glad everyone is enjoying digging through these! I'm still working on getting galleries together for the next 7 buildings. It's a fun but time-intensive project to get these organized chronologically.
 

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