The Baby Incubators   were one of the Pike's  few scientific displays. The building, with its two large towers and open court
was one of the few  fire-proof attractions  on the Pike.

The Red Cross estimated that 17-40% of infants  (at the time), so this  attraction was not only interesting but even vital to fairgoers.  

 "See the mites of humanity whose lives are being preserved by  this wonderful method," stated the  newspaper advertisements for the Pike.  

There were twenty four `modern'  incubators  shown in this exhibit.  Each machine was an air-tight silver-framed glass  box. Hot air was pumped underneath the floorboards to keep the room's temperature constant. By artificial means (which included regulation of oxygen and ventilation), the incubator  helped an immature and feeble infant,    acclimatize  to the outside world.  Ten trained nursed, under the guidance of three physicians,  cared for the infants, who were separated from fairgoers by a wall of plate glass. 

Premature babies from St. Louis hospitals were  driven in ambulances in incubators on springs.  

An average of 25 babies were on display at one given day, while  four lecturers would inform the crowd about the process  on how the machines were heated and ventilated, and talked about various statistics pertaining to the care of the very young. 

The babies whose health improved as to not need the incubators were placed in small enamel beds and
tiny cribs.

After viewing the immature babies,  visitors could buy a souvenir soap baby and have lunch at the Incubator Cafe.  

An  abandoned premature infant was found in St. Louis by a police officer and brought to  the incubator
babies attraction. After the abandoned baby was placed in an incubator, the police officer brought
his new bride to the Fair many times stopping  to observe the baby’s progress.

On Dec. 1, 1904, the day the Fair ended, the couple adopted the baby and named her Frances 
after David Rowland Francis, the Exposition president.


At the beginning of the twentieth  century, premature babies became a sideshow exhibit. Visitors would pay to walk through rows of tiny babies in incubators. Hospitals had little regard for premature babies, which  they described as being  "weaklings." 

In St. Louis, the Fair concessions committee decided to shop the attraction to vendors who would offer them the highest cut of profits, instead of quality care. They hired Edward Bayliss, a well-connected local businessman, who hired a doctor to run the Baby Incubator attraction. The man knew little about caring for premature infants.

The caretakers fed the premature infants  on cow's milk, cereal and egg. Infants were vomiting and having diarrhea. The machines were overheating. The conditions were filthy. Out of 43 babies, supposedly 39 soon died.

Letters of complaint from the  director of the St. Louis Humane Society were sent to  David R. Francis, criticizing the money over care practice. The attraction was  allowed to continue, but  Martin Couney, (whose Incubator attractions had a had a survival rate of 85%, published an highly critical  open letter in the New York Evening Journal."

A new doctor- Dr. John Zahorsky, took over managing the attraction, and although sanitary and better medical practices lessened the death rate, the horrors still lingered in the public's eye. People now had a fear of  hospitals, and made people were frightened of  from using incubators that could save may premature babies' lives. 

This information was obtained from the article: AISHA SULTAN | St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Associated Press | Published: October 19, 2019

Exhibit Statictics:

Building cost:   31,000 dollars
Price of Admission-  25 cents adults, 15 cents children
Exhibition Profit-   181,632.95 dollars
Baby Incubator exterior
Nurse attending pre-mature baby.
Lee  Gaskins'   AT THE FAIR  The 1904 St. Louis World's   Fair  
                     Web  Design and Art/Illustration   copyrighted  2008