The History of World Expositions

The Saint Louis World Exposition 1904
"Enter herein ye sons of men!" â the opening


Year: 1904
City: St. Louis
Country: USA
Duration: 30th April - 1st December 1904
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Copyright: Reid 1904, o.S.
Opening ceremony

The Louisiana Purchase Exposition was opened on 30 April 1904. About 200,000 people had gathered around the Louisiana Monument to attend the opening celebrations. The pillar, with its relief work based on designs by the head sculptor, Karl Bitter, depicting the purchase of the Louisiana territory and the history of the Mississippi valley, had been erected in a central position. At the top of the pillar was a Victoria bearing two olive-branches of peace and standing at a height of 38 metres. This monument symbolised the occasion for and the aim of the exposition. In his speech, David R. Francis emphasised the significance of the exhibition as taking comprehensive stock of human civilisation, adding "that even if all other achievements of humankind were to be eradicated by a dreadful catastrophe, the facts established here by the gathering of nations would be sufficient to reconstruct civilisation." The climax of the celebrations came after the address of the Minister for Defence, William Howard Taft, who was representing the American President, Theodore Roosevelt, in St. Louis. At the White House in Washington the President turned a golden telegraphic key, thus giving the signal for the exposition to begin. This immediately set the entire machinery in motion: a battalion of artillery fired national greetings in the direction of Washington, David R. Francis raised his hands, saying: "Enter herein ye sons of men!", 10,000 flags were raised, fountains shot up into the sky, waterfalls poured down in cascades, the band started to play an open-air concert. The result of six years of work, according to Francis the epitome of industrial, scientific and artistic progress, not only in America, but in all other nations since the Louisiana purchase, could not but be marvelled at by the public.


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