24 August, 2009

Meet Me in Saint Louis-My World Tuesday August 24, 2009

I am off to Saint Louis tomorrow morning to attend a Conference. Thought you might enjoy a few factoids about Saint Louis.

Meet Me in St. Louis is a 1944 romantic musical film from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer which tells the story of four sisters living in Saint Louis at the time of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition World's Fair in 1904. The film was directed by Vincente Minnelli, who met his future wife, Judy Garland, on the set. In the film, Garland debuted the standards "The Trolley Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" which became hits after the film was released.

The backdrop for Meet Me in St. Louis is St. Louis, Missouri on the brink of the 1904 World's Fair. The Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis was one of the major Victorian-era World's Fairs. The Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904) aka the St Louis World's Fair celebrated the United State's of America purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1804. The Fair lasted 215 days, covered 1,272 acres, & drew 18,317,457 visitors. The Palace of Fine Arts by Cass Gilbert, now the St Louis Art Museum is the only remaining building.

It was delayed from a planned opening in 1903 to 1904 allow for full-scale participation by more states and foreign countries. The Fair opened April 30, 1904, and closed December 1, 1904. Of notable interest is that St. Louis had held an annual Saint Louis Exposition (1884) since the 1880s as agricultural, trade, and scientific exhibitions, but this event was not held in 1904 due to the World's Fair.

The Fair's 1,200 acre (4.9 km²) site, designed by George Kessler, was located at the present-day grounds of Forest Park and on the campus of Washington University, and was the largest fair to date. There were over 1,500 buildings, connected by some 75 miles (120 km) of roads and walkways. It was said to be impossible to give even a hurried glance at everything in less than a week. The Palace of Agriculture alone covered some 20 acres (324,000 m²).

Exhibits were staged by 62 foreign nations, the United States government, and 43 of the then-45 U.S. states. These featured industries, cities, private organizations and corporations, theater troupes, and music schools. There were also over 50 concession-type amusements found on "The Pike"; they provided educational and scientific displays, exhibits and imaginary 'travel' to distant lands, history and local boosterism (including Louis Wollbrinck's "Old St. Louis") and pure entertainment.

A number of foods are claimed to have been invented at the fair. The most popular claim is that the waffle-style ice cream cone was invented and first sold during the fair. However, it is widely believed that it was not invented at the Fair, but instead, it was popularized at the Fair. Other claims are more dubious, including the hamburger and hot dog (both traditional American foods), peanut butter, iced tea, and cotton candy. It is more likely, however, that these food items were first introduced to mass audiences and popularized by the fair. In 1904, Lazenby and O'Hara introduced Dr Pepper to almost 20 million people attending the 1904 World's Fair Exposition in St. Louis and puffed rice made its premier appearance as well. A minor hit as a novelty, it also caught the eye of an unnamed executive of the Quaker cereal company in the process

Iced tea had been available for a few years prior to the fair, but it was popularized at the fair. The invention of iced tea is generally believed to have occurred in America in 1904, although some evidence has been presented that it may have been drunk in the South well before that. Like many great inventions, iced tea was created completely by accident. It was a sweltering day during the World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, and Englishman Richard Blechynden's tea concession was not doing well. Thinking quickly, Mr. Blechynden added ice and created a beverage that has since become an American favorite.

Have a great week everyone and I will share my adventures with you next week providing the weather cooperates; I am really looking forward to going up in the Saint Louis Arch.

Be sure to stop by our wonderful That's My World meme. We had over 100 participants last week. I personally enjoy visiting other blogs from around the world. Enjoy.