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Sports - Expo Saint-Louis 1904

Missing picture

This solid, massive Missouri granite building looks more like the gateway to some ancient fortress than an Exposition Palace.

It is situated at the western end of the city, bordered on the south by Fourth Avenue and on the north by the Aeronautics building sites.

The execution process followed by the architect is very simple: high, thick walls with unadorned openings.

The entire façade consists of two square towers that rise up on either side of the entrance like bastions, ending in a platform and battlements, and are pierced over the entire height by mullioned openings with two or three crosspieces. They seem to be supports for dizzying recoveries, an invitation to climb, a challenge to the most agile, the best muscled.

The entrance is set back and has the appearance of a large arched window at the top, adorned with sculptures, the only decorative motifs to be found in the entire building. The portcullis and drawbridge are missing from the portal.

The sides are of the same construction as the towers, a bare wall pierced by cross-tiles.

At the rear, the walls are lowered and only rise to half the height of the side walls. They are supported by buttresses.

The athletics and sports headquarters is 64 metres long and 34 metres wide.

The special character of its architecture is a marked tendency towards the Gothic style.

The interior is more ornate, with porticoes surrounding the courtyards, exercise rooms, hydrotherapy rooms, and rooms containing exhibitions of the various industries involved in physical education: games, weapons, clothing, apparatus, and also everything related to the moral and plastic side: documents, graphics, various works, etc. The special system of tables designed to facilitate the development of schoolchildren without interrupting their studies, and Dr. Richer's statuettes, which add a French artistic touch, can be found here.

The athletic field is attached to the palace and follows it. Its track is 1/3 of a mile long (536 metres); in a straight line it is more than 200 metres long. Resistant, soft and elastic, it is dug with such a perfect drainage system, that the most violent rain storm does not leave a trace after a few minutes, so that the soggy ground is never a cause of postponement.

Seats for 25,000 spectators are arranged on the south side of the track, supported on the natural slope of the clay bench that was used to build this immense amphitheatre.

This is where the Olympic Games are held. If the winners no longer enjoy the intoxicating triumphs of ancient Greece, if the medals are less glorious than the olive wreaths, and if there is not as much poetry in the diplomas as in the stanzas of Pindar, the fervour for the games of strength and skill, the cult of physical beauty, has remained as lively.

Football, running, lawn-tennis, long-palm and fencing were all practised in the same place. Gymnastics and sports societies have their own apparatus and tracks, and shooting societies their own stands.

©Exposition internationale de Saint Louis 1904. Rapport général