The 1904 St. Louis World's Fair opened April 30, 1904 and closed Dec. 1, 1904. While organizers tried to hold an Olympic event (such as tug of war) every day from July 1 to Nov. 23, the bulk of the recognized Olympic sports were held from Monday, Aug. 29 through Sept. 3.
The first U.S. Olympics had originally been awarded to Chicago but St. Louis threatened to hold a rival international competition. The Olympians totaled 651 athletes: 645 men and six women representing 12 countries. (Those six women represented the U.S. archery team!)
The International Olympic Committee later declared that 94 of the events were Olympic, but only 42 events included athletes who were not from the United States since many European athletes did not come due to the expense. (The United States placed "first" with 239 medals and Germany came in second with 13.)
The marathon included the first two black Africans to compete in the Olympics: Len Taunyane and Jan Mashiani, who participated in the Olympics even though they were supposed to be in the Fair's Boer War Exhibit. Taunyane placed ninth (dogs chased him a mile off course) and Mashiani came in 12th.
St. Louis organizers repeated the mistakes made at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris by reducing competitions to a side-show that were overshadowed by the Fair. The Games were so poorly run that the modern Olympic movement almost came to an end.
The 1904 Fair's 1,200 acre site was the largest to date with more than 1,500 buildings, connected by 75 miles of roads and walkways. Exhibits were staged by 62 foreign nations, the United States government, and 43 of the then-45 U.S. states. It was said to be impossible to give even glance at everything in less than a week. The Palace of Agriculture alone covered about 20 acres and 19,694,855 individuals attended the fair!
A number of foods are claimed to have been invented at the Fair including the waffle-style ice cream cone, the hamburger, hot dog, peanut butter, iced tea, and cotton candy. It is more likely, however, that these food items were first introduced to mass audiences and popularized by the fair.
I'm sure Sam, Ruth, Josefina Ester, and I shall be reporting on the foods later this week!
The 1904 St. Louis World's Fair
Aug. 29 - Sept. 3, 1904
- Third Olympic Games of the modern era, Track & Field events begin (U.S. won 23 of 25 gold medals)