Park Yourself at the Fair

30, April 2014
British PavilionBritish Pavilion at St. Louis World's Fair. Photograph by Official Photographic Company, 1904. Missouri History Museum.

roller chairTandem roller-chair at World's Fair, 1904. History Museum.

Open ye gates! Swing wide ye portals! Provide respite ye benches!

Ok, maybe Louisiana Purchase Exposition president David R. Francis didn’t say that last part when he officially opened the St. Louis World’s Fair 110 years ago today. But those benches were pretty important to the daily throngs of pedestrians and their aching feet. After all, the fairgrounds covered 1,240 acres of Forest Park and surrounding areas. Although visitors could ride in buggies, roller-chairs, or railway cars, most people ambled along—and not in sensible support shoes, either.

That leads us to this particular bench, one of many artifacts from the Fair in the History Museum collections. It’s featured as one of 50 Objects in our 250 in 250 exhibition

benchWhite terra-cotta bench from the 1904 World's Fair. Missouri History Museum.

This bench was located at the British Pavilion, what is now the Kemper Art Museum and Bixby Hall at Washington University. It would be quite a hike to get from there over to the Plateau of States in the northwest corner of the grounds, so surely many people took a breather on this very piece of furniture before heading out.

The History Museum has many World’s Fair photos and objects on display in another exhibit dedicated solely to the Fair—The 1904 World's Fair: Looking Back at Looking Forward. Come by the Museum to visit both exhibits and commemorate the past 110 (or 250) years!

—Lauren Mitchell, Senior Editor