Though a part of the  Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company  committee  wanted the Fair to be on the magnificent Mississippi River in  Carondelet, they conceded to the idea of  more hilly Forest Park,  in the  southern end of  St. Louis. The park was at a central point between the north and south of  town, away from unsightly factories  and slums, but easily accessible  by public transportation. There, they could landscape sweeping views of the surroundings as  well as views of the river.  In  addition,  the park already had  streets in place as well as good water  pressure. Furthermore,  stately private streets such as Westmoreland Place and Portland Place  were  located near the park.

Because parts of Forest Park would have to be cut down, the Exposition Company  was hit with a lawsuit by environmentalists.  The 'Wilderness,' as the northwestern  corner of the park  was called  because of its untouched dense woodlands, was a difficult issue to win, so the  committee compromised, they  would only utilize   657 acres of the park. So as not to reduce the scale of their  vision,  they obtained   land to the west, including leasing  (for 650,000 dollars),  the new but not yet occupied property that would make up Washington University campus.  Several private families leased the Fair land south of Washington University.

On Dec. 20, 1901, Francis  held a  groundbreaking ceremony  on a frozen  site just southwest of the Missouri History Museum.  They burned wood to thaw the  ground,  to  pound in the oak spike, signifying the beginning of construction.  The statue of St. Louis would be placed there.

A commission of architects was created  to tackle the design stage of the fairgrounds. Formed on  June 27, 1901, they  consisted  of independent architects, landscape architects, the heads of six  architectural firms and three advisors; this group was  given the  enormous task of the entire design and layout of the Fair. Julius Pitzman, a  respected St. Louis city planner, noted the problem of the Des Peres river. 

 Not only did the polluted waterway frequently flood, but its winding route left no space for large palaces to be constructed. Designer of Works- Isaac Taylor suggested Pitzman and advisor  George E. Kessler   that the river should be shortened by half, straightened and placed underground. The Rich Construction Company transformed the river into a three chambered sluice-way (to vary  the flow of the water) during the  frozen winter in 65 days. 

Work  began  on the `Chain of Rocks' water purification basins to clean up St. Louis' drinking water and provide clear, flowing water for the cascades and fountains of the Fair.

Contracts to complete four of the palaces were awarded prior to `repairing'  the river. The lowest contractor bid included having to subscribe to  Louisiana Purchase Exposition stock. At a price tag of 604,000 dollars, the first palace to be contracted (and  constructed),  was the Palace of Varied Industries. Huge pilings were driven into the unstable ground to support the build's wooden  foundations and supports as well as the ornate casted staff (strengthened plaster). Wood, (which  was cheaper than  steel), allowed workers to  attach  the mainly ivory-covered staff, much easier.  Over one million feet of scaffolding was used in its construction. Workers earned between 1.50 and 5 dollars  a day. 

Work on  the largest construction project in St. Louis history continued at a furious rate.   Thirty  miles of new streets were  created, while seventy miles of roads were resurfaced. Trees 
were axed or  replanted. Thousands of tree stumps were  removed, countless cubic feet of soil had to be graded, and  thousands of feet of sewers. Palaces, nations hotels, restaurants, 
and state buildings all had to be constructed, including the Pike,  the Great Basin, Cascades and all the landscaping,  artworks  and  statues and various adornments. All of these tasks including 
redesigning a river were done by  horse drawn, earth-moving  equipment,  simple sweat,  muscle and determination. 

 Up to   100,000 visitors visited the site on each Sunday  to gawk at 
the transformation of Forest Park into an ornate wonder.  On occasion, a few steamed-powered pieces of equipment  were  utilized. 

Lee  Gaskins'  AT THE FAIR  The 1904 St. Louis World's   Fair  
                     Web  Design and Art/Illustration   copyrighted  2008 
The Northern half of Forest  Park  would  hold the procipal group  of  Exhibition Palaces
Constructing the Palace of Varied Industries
Hoisting  the first  piece of  staff for  the  Palace of Varied Industries
Northwest view from the Palace of  Education of workers  finishing  a roof,  during the  summer of  1902.  
Building the electrical conduit which was  a mile  long. 
Deverting  the Des Peres River.
Driving the ceremonial first spike .
Building Committee opening building  bids. 
A view eastward  frpm the Administration Building  in August, 1902.
Palace of Electricity, scaffolded  during  construction. 
Carpenters drilling holes and placing bolts in timbers during construction,  June 1902. 
Staff Eagle statues waiting  to  be placed on te Palace  of  Education.
West end of Palace of Electricity, constructing a canal.  September. 1903. 
Dome and section  of the Palace of Varied Industries during construction.
Constructing the roof of the
Palace of Transportation

But as time sped by with slow progress,  it became evident that the 1903 opening was unrealistic. Preparations for a Fair of this nature were more time-consuming than first thought and without  additional  commitments from foreign and national exhibitors to entice  visitors  and businesses, the project  would become an economic disaster. More time was needed to finish the physical structure of the Fair and the hotels to accommodate fairgoers and visitors to St. Louis.  With Francis, Taylor and the city of  St. Louis asking for  more time, Congress delayed the Fair's opening until  1904.

A colorized image of construction workers, with Palace of  Machinery to background  left. 
A scaffolded Palace of  Machinery during  construction. 
Constructing  the Palaces (picture  sent and courtesy of Mike Truax 1904 WFS president)
Constructing  the Palace of Mines (picture  sent and courtesy of Mike Truax 1904 WFS president)
Carpenters at work on the Palace of Varied Industries during construction
Workers hoisting the first piece of staff onto the Palace of Varied Industries
Workers making window sashes for the Palace of Varied Industries 
View of  grounds  from  the  Fine  Art Building.
Building  the  floor  of  the  Manufacturer's  Building. The Palace of  Electricity is  in the  background. 
Colonnade  of  the Palace of Education
Finishing  the  Birdcage