What an adventure to visit Forest Park and the Missouri History Museum.
ST. LOUIS — What an adventure to visit Forest Park and the Missouri History Museum. Just walking on the sprawling manicured lawns, visitors can imagine the era of times past.
The Missouri Historical Society operates the Museum in the park at Lindell and DeBaliviere and the Library and Research Center at 225 South Skinker Blvd. in the city of St. Louis. Admission to the museum and library are free to the public. There is a fee for special museum exhibitions, but weekly free admission times are available.
This is the Forest Park that hosted the 1904 World's Fair which was also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. It marked the 100th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson's great acquisition. Introduced at the fair were the ice cream cone and the hot dog.
Many inventions premiered at the fair. Iced tea was quite the luxury. It wasn't the tea, but the ice was the luxury. The Ferris Wheel had been erected at a previous exposition and was installed in St. Louis and quickly became the most photographed object at the fair.
A magnificent spectacle greeted the opening day crowd of 200,000; a dazzling city stood on what had been a woodland park. Fair organizers built nearly 1,500 buildings including several grand palaces across 1,200 acres of a newly redesigned Forest Park.
At the end of the fair, the majority of the park and its palaces, exhibit halls, and attractions (including the colossal Ferris Wheel) were demolished. The debris was salvaged, sold, or buried on site. The History Museum has remnants on exhibit that have been unearthed and a variety of souvenirs that were available during the fair.
The major exhibit hall and home of the Missouri Historical Society was built in 1913 with proceeds from the Fair. The Jefferson Memorial, located on the site of the main entrance was dedicated in 1913. Construction took two years and cost upwards of $480,000. It was the first national monument to the country's third President.
Presently, exhibits include the Civil War, woven textiles, portrait gallery, World's Fair memorabilia, a historic fire collection, and history of St. Louis. There is a nearby park, Bixby's Restaurant, and a gift shop. While your visiting on the park grounds be sure to check out the largest bird cage ever built, and it is still one of the world's largest free-flight aviaries. It was built for the Fair and purchased by the city of St. Louis for $3,500 in 1904.
The Missouri Historical Society has been active in the St. Louis community since 1866. Founding members organized the historical society for the purpose of saving from oblivion the early history of the city and state.
The society seeks to deepen the understanding of past choices, present circumstances, and future possibilities; strengthen the bonds of the community; and facilitate solutions to common problems.