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Before and After the 1904 Saint Louis World's Fair
by Jack Corbett



Imagine as you roll over the image with your mouse the way things must have looked in 1904 and what is here now.  In the picture I took of the St Louis Art Museum ensconced on top of Art Hill there is a sixty foot rise to the top of the hill. Back in 1904 this structure was behind the imposing Festival Hall. You couldn't really see it without walking behind Festival Hall. On both sides of Festival Hall is the Colonnade of the States which celebrated the original thirteen states. This put Festival Hall much closer to the lake or pond which was then called the Grand Basin. Two cascades pumped 55,000 gallons of water per minute into the Grand Basin from both sides of Festival Hall. They symbolized the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and man's "control" over the waters.

On a bright summer day the Art Museum might draw a decent crowd and you might catch a few people lounging in the area that was once the Great Basin, but nothing like it was then. It is difficult to imagine how it must have looked and even harder to feel what the fair goers must have felt back then. Although the Art Museum was the most expensive building to build in 1904 since it was made to last, it was no doubt one of the smaller ones. In spite of there being a number of very large palaces, Festival Hall, was the center focus of the entire fair with the Art Museum being well hidden. Ironically, Cass Gilbert was the architect of both buildings.

 

 

The Palace of Machinery and Electricity

 

 

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