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Official Souvenir World's Fair - St. Louis

Administration Building

When this postcard was made, it was meant to be held up to the light.  When a viewer did this, they would see a nighttime version of this building (notice the moon in the background) alluding to its grandness day or night. 

Interesting to note about this card is the angle in which the image is seen.  The image is captured from a distance, and we see the building from an off center angle.  The fact that part of the building is not in the frame of the card suggests that it continues on indefinitely adding to the collection of neverending buildings displayed throughout the 1904 fair.

Also to note that despite the distance, it is clear there are people on the grounds - many of the images and postcards from this World Fair show people in them, representing the mass numbers of visitors (over 19 million) who attended the fair.  Additionally, these cards want to show that while the buildings are vast and impressive, this is after all, an event for people to attend and learn.

All the buildings built for the fair share a classical, old European style, which strongly reminds us of a glorified past full of heroic and knightly deeds.  Juxtaposed against that are the interiors, which tout great technological advances.  The implications of this opposition of the great buildings looking back towards a heroic past conveys the greatness and importance of technology.


During the 1904 World Fair in St. Louis, the world was experiencing a time of peace, which was reflected in the 62 countries who participated in the fair.  The architecture of the buildings depicted in these postcards and images reflect a classical, old European architecture, which contrasts the technological advancements found in the interiors.  In all the postcards and images shown here, we see a similar vantage point in the angles at which these buildings are portrayed - they are slightly off center, from a low point looking up, and none of the buildings are shown in their entirety.  Through this vantage point, not only do we get a sense of nearness, like we are really there, standing in front of these grand buildings, we also get a sense that these buildings are never ending, and in their largeness, cannot possibly hold all the new technological advancements found inside.

Official Souvenir World's Fair - St. Louis

Palace of Agriculture

Again, we see a grand building built in the Classical style of a heroic past.  The angle of the image is low to ground and off center, as opposed to a head on angle, giving the impression of the vastness of the building, which was actually 1/4 of a mile long and on 18 acres.  The fact that the entire building is not able to be captured in the postcard, like the Administration building, suggests an idea of its expanse.

The people walking around in the image shows us that this building is not just for show, but that people are involved and participating in the event.

Mines And Metallurgy Building - 1904 World's Fair

Palace of Mines and Metallurgy

This is a closer shot then the previous two cards, and again, the palace is too vast to fit in the entire picture.  With this postcard showing the building in such a close up, you feel as if you could walk right into the building.  This postcards give us a clear picture of the details of the building - we can see the arches, the statues, the domes, and the glowing interior.  The glowing interior gives us the feeling of this building being occupied - people are inside learning and using this building.  It's like we can almost see the patrons through the "eyes" of the building.

The gondola in the water in the foreground represents the many different countries who attended this fair.

World's Fair, St. Louis Mo. 1904

Palace of Electricity and Machinery

This postcard, like the others, is shown from a low and off center angle, again implying a boundlessness.  We can see people on the grounds enjoying the fair and we get a real sense of the recurring classical theme of all the architecture.

Palace of Liberal Arts

This last image is not a postcard, but a photograph.  However, it has the same vastness and off center vantage point of the postcards. 

The 1904 World Fair was grand and exciting where many people from different countries and cultures gathered to learn about the newest technologies of the day.  The similarities between these postcards and images convey that the new technologies in the world required immense structures to hold them and that these new technologies were just as noble, wonderful, and grand as the ancient palaces of the old world.   

The way all of these images cannot capture a buiding in its entirity implies a sense of boundlessness.  It is as if the authors of the images are reflecting on the idea that the new technologies of the time were limitless and could not be contained.  The classical style of architecture was a way for the planners to pay homage to the past while giving the future room to expand.