For details of each Grand Palace, please click on its name.
Lee  Gaskins'   AT THE FAIR  The 1904 St. Louis World's   Fair  
                     Web  Design and Art/Illustration   copyrighted  2008 
The palaces were 12 colossal buildings that occupied 135 acres  of real estate at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Built  at  a cost of   6,449,736  dollars, these  massive edifices  of striking beauty portrayed a neo-classic Roman style that symbolized the current  ideology  of the United States. 

Fair President-  David R. Francis wanted the palaces to contrast aesthetic beautiful with enormous strength.  He  stated, "I feel when I stand on Art Hill and view the panorama spread before me, that I have seen a masterpiece of architectural achievement. It is as if the symbolized genius of construction stood at my side and slowly unfolded her bejeweled fan, on which are embossed in ivory, silver, and gold the most exquisite creations of the art."

By prior agreement with city officials, Forest Park would be  returned to its previous state once the Fair ended. As with the  1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the huge palaces,  buildings, and  hundreds of statues and monuments, were constructed not to last and were created from a  temporary material called  "staff," a mixture  of lime plaster and cement, containing glycerin and dextrose. Workers added shredded Manila hemp fiber, (the main ingredient in rope),  to form a  more manageable and strong plaster of Paris.  Staff looked like marble and could easily  be cast  and sculpted (and eventually  destroyed). Throughout  the months of the Fair,  the buildings worn down  due  to weather. Only one of the grand palaces- The Palace of Fine Arts (constructed mostly out of marble),   would not end up as rubble.  

Although their exteriors were elaborately designed and detailed with a  neo-Classical  theme (extremely popular in opulent  Victorian  society), the vast palace interiors   were strictly  utilitarian. They varied in  style  and  size; from the enormous 23 acre- Palace of Agriculture  to  the relatively `small' 7 1/2  acre-sized- Palace of Horticulture.  Incorporating 5 million square feet of exhibit space, these  edifices were a showcase for billions of  dollars of  technology, engineering, produce, and merchandise of every description imaginable.  You could gaze upon the hundreds of  the latest automobiles as well as  the  massive  Swiss-built `Mallet, (pronounced Mallay), the  world's largest locomotive in the Palace of Transportation. One could peruse the impressive Bethlehem Steel exhibit in  the Palace of Mines and Metallurgy, while checking out the latest shoes at the Palace of Manufactures. One could also purchase everything from precious jewels and  inlayed furniture to the latest farm,  scientific equipment, and even Buster Brown shoes and a new-fangled treat- the ice cream cone.  Souvenirs from all over the world, including many exclusively  produced  for the Fair could be purchased. 

US Customs had a  field day collecting  duty/taxes on  foreign goods.  In fact, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company  charged a rather steep commission of 25% on all goods sold, thus making the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair  the only one that  made a profit.

But the palaces were not just  a huge shopping mall. Education was the key message at the Fair.  The massive structures' exhibits   focused on the   education of fairgoers to new technology, techniques and innovations as well as state, national and international pride.  The exhibits   didn't just display  simple end-products but showcased how things worked. 

With  so  much  to  see, some  exhibitors hooked the average fairgoer  to their displays by showcasing  a  `gimmick,'  such as California's  massive elephant made entirely  out of almonds in the Palace of Horticulture.  Sculptures made out of butter and  buildings made out of corn, were just a few  of the strange exhibits. 

The eight main Palaces contained 142 miles of aisle ways.

There was no fee or ticket required to  enter any of the  palaces, but a few individual displays  were granted  the rights to  charge an addition  charge. 

While the enormous palaces were closed at dusk  (6pm), fairgoers flocked to the mile-long  Pike  for various carnival types of entertainment, shows and attractions  and dark rides.   The Pike closed at 11pm.  
Palace of Manufacturers via Daniel Boone Bridge.