Louisiana Purchase Exposition

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The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also known as the St. Louis World's Fair, was an international exposition held in St. Louis, Missouri in 1904 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States' purchase of Louisiana, a vast area of land previously owned by France.


The fair opened on 30 April 1904 with 62 countries participating. The fair was located at a 1,200-acre site which now covers the present-day grounds of Forest Park and the Washington University. The fair used around 1,500 buildings which were connected by kilometer-long roads and sidewalks. The site was designed by George Kessler, a German-American pioneer city planner and landscape architect. The exposition featured displays from industries, cities, private corporations, schools and other non-governmental groups which provided educational and scientific information along with entertainment.

Some of the highlights of the fair included the Electricity Building and the wireless telegraph tower, the Festival Hall, the East Lagoon, the Statue of Saint Louis, the Palaces of Education and Manufacture, the Flight Cage and the 'native' exhibits.

Philippine exhibit

One of the main features of the exposition was the showcasing of some of the native inhabitants from different US-occupied territories such as the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico. There were over 1000 Filipinos recruited for the exhibit which included the Tagalogs, Visayans, Muslims, Tinguianes, Pampangans, Kalingas, Mangyans, Negritos, Bagobos. However, it was revealed that some of the natives recruited did not have any idea where they were going. Similarly, others who were not really natives just signed up for a chance to go to America.


One of the controversies surrounding the exhibit was the presentation of the tribes as primitive when compared to civilized Caucasians. According to historians, the anthropological exposition were also set up to stress the superiority of Caucasian race. When Igorots were displayed, they were described by presenters as primitive and savages who need the guidance of the West.

Dog eating

The exposition featured the history and culture of the Filipinos, from the early civilization to the modern times. To simulate their environment in the Philippines, the fair built their native homes exactly as they were built in their areas. By giving them what they need, they were encouraged to live like they do in the Philippines. One of the tribes that drew the most interest and attention in the fair were the Igorots who, apart from their unusual dress and daily dancing, "culture-shocked" the residence of St. Louis by eating dog meat, which is a normal part of the tribe's diet. Many openly criticized the Igorot's appetite for dog while others defended the tribe's need for it.





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