Getting to the Fair was a fairly easy proposition because of many
actors. One, location; St. Louis was more or less close to the center of the
United States, hence no person had to cross the entire country to
get there. Another helpful avenue was the great Mississippi River,
which was located about five miles east of the fairgrounds and
roughly four and one-half miles from the business section of the city.
Boats brought visitors to the fair via the `Mighty Miss.' as well as
the Missouri Rivers.
Many visitors utilized the tried and true method of horse-drawn
carriages, while others drove (or were driven), by the newfangled
automobile. Locals used streetcars to access the Fair. In fact for
the Exposition, officials built a streetcar or trolleyline across the
Missouri River linking St. Charles and St. Louis.
Automobile and tally-ho coach lines began from the hotel section
of the city and carried passengers to stations outside and inside
If passengers wanted to travel from afar without the haphazard traveling via
automobile on bad roads and flimsy tires, there were many railroads to choose from.
The St. Louis Union Station, opened in 1884, was a stunning building with its
barrel-vaulted Grand Hall. Designed by Theodore Link (who was the architect on
the palace of Mines and Metallurgy), and provided visitors with a taste of the
grand architecture that they would find at the Fair.
The Fairgrounds were touched by transportation agencies from the city at
eleven points. Two steam railroad terminals were close to the grounds, while
nine electric street railway loop terminals, that served all parts of the city for
one fare, were located at the entrances.
The Wabash Railroad (a steam train), had a terminal station at the main
entrance to the fairgrounds, that provided shuttle trains between the fairgrounds
and Union Station. Taylor City Belt Railroad, a corporation which served the
St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad and the Missouri Pacific Railroad, allowed
passengers to reach the southern part of the fairgrounds.
Street Railways were operated by two corporations, the Transit Company and
the St. Louis & Suburban Railway Company. The former touched the fairgrounds at six entrances, the latter at three. Transfers were not interchangeable between the lines of the two companies. Signs in the front and back windows, indicated the route, or destination, or both.
A nickel charge paid for passage to the city limits from any point in the city. Children under 12 years were carried for half fare, while under kids under five rode free.
The New York Central and West Shore Railroads had excursions to the Fair from New York and Boston- six trains a day. Rates from New York to St. Louis cost between 23.50 to 38.89 dollars.
Getting around the Fair was not an easy task for
most visitors if they had to walk the 1,200 acres of
fairgrounds. Officials set up more than a dozen types
of transportation that could help carry people around
to less the fatigue of the day's events.
The Fair had three miniature railroads, and the
“Intramural Railway,” to traverse large spans of the
fairgrounds. Other wheeled transported included:
the jinrikisha (a rickshaw-like contraption), and
roller as well as wicker chairs that rolled through
fairgrounds, powered by an attendant (or guide).
The wheeled chairs could be rented with a guide
at (60 cents and hour(, or without
(35 cents an hour). A five dollar deposit was needed
to rent a chair without a guide. The chairs were not allowed inside the buildings or concession gates. Baby carriages could be rented for 25 cents an
By the end of the Fair, the roller chairs grossed:
In some areas of the Fair, visitors could ride camels,
elephants or burros. Carriages pulled by ox were also
Fairgoers could also could get a guided tour of an area,
as they were carried by giant open-air vehicles (cars that
held more than a dozen people at a time), or buses that
could fit double the capacity. Provided by the world's fair
Touring Company, they grossed 175,119,70 dollars by the
conclusion of the Fair. For the more daring, one could
also get a birds-eye view via hot air balloon.
To travel or cross the Fair’s lakes and lagoons (or simply
enjoy a leisurely boat ride), visitors could choose
between 30 steam or electrical boats of swan and
dragon design. Other watercraft included Chinese
houseboats, Indian balso, South Sea outriggers,
Hawaiian surfboats, Indian canoes, dugouts, and
Australian catamarans. There were also 30
flower-decorated gondolas complete with singing
gondoliers, who were imported from Venice.
Admission was 10 cents.