The St. Louis World’s Fair: When Presidents Attended Expos

On August 30th, 1904, around 12:15 P.M. in Washington, President Theodore Roosevelt proudly touched a golden button, officially opening the St. Louis World’s Fair.

Crazy facts about the St. Louis World’s Fair  

If you’re interested in how trade shows, conferences and summits became an essential part of American business, you’ll want to brush up on the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.  

All the classic elements that make up a trade show are present from almost a hundred and twenty years ago, including exhibit design, networking, and discovering new products.  

The Fair’s themes centered on education and American know-how. It became the stage for people and businesses to discover the latest technological progress. For example, an exciting invention called the private automobile was among the Fair’s featured exhibits. 

Here are some crazy facts about the fair.  

  • The St. Louis World Fair’s official name is the Louisianna Purchase Exposition. The exposition was a celebration of the area’s 100 years in the union.  
  • In 1904, St. Louis, MO was the fourth largest city in the country and part of the land covered in the treaty. Hence, it was the ideal place to host the World Fair.  
  • It took five years to build the exhibition, which consisted of 1,200—acre fair grounds and it’s nearly 1,500 buildings.  
  • The Fair ran for 8 months, and during that time an estimated 20 million people attended. 
  • After the fair closed, nearly all the buildings were destroyed. The only remaining features of the fair grounds are a few ponds and canals in Forest Park in St. Louis. 

Personally, I’ve always found it amazing how quickly spacious show floors are filled with large exhibits only to be dismantled after a few days. Turns out this is not unique to modern day trade shows after all.  

Technology and exhibits

Among the products on display at the World’s Fair, visitors… 

  • Were introduced to ice cream cones 
  • Discovered outdoor electric lighting  
  • Saw the first X-Ray Machine  
  • Toured a wireless telephone tower 
  • Learned about the newest Underwood typewriters 
  • Witnessed the history of locomotives  
  • Interacted with cultures and people from around the world 

Learning about new products and seeing what’s out there remains an important reason for trade show attendees today.  

According to the Center of Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), 97% of attendees go to learn about new trends in their industry.  

President Theodore Roosevelt officially opened the St. Louis World’s Fair.

Trade Shows: for nations or businesses?  

The key difference between then and now is that the world fairs and expos made political statements about a country’s position on the global stage. 

You might still argue that the state of the exhibition industry and networking is an indication of a nation’s economic health.

For example, did you know that 48 percent of all trade shows in the world take place in the U.S.? Trade shows are the 2nd highest source of B2B revenue in the U.S.

Why are trade shows so crucial for business growth?

According to Harvard Business, at least one reason must be that a face-to-face request is 34 times more effective than email. 

To succeed at trade shows. remember it’s about three things: people, products and learning.  

Click here to download our whitepaper on Getting Attendees’ Pre-Set Agenda. It will show you how to book more meetings with prospects before the show and, as a bonus, you’ll also receive a free marketing email template.

Contact The Trade Group to design an exhibit that attracts buyers – The Trade Group is a full-service trade show and event marketing company. We will work with you to create an exhibit that brings in leads and helps you achieve your business goals. Contact us here or give us a call at 972-734-8585. 

*Pictures courtesy of Wikimedia

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