St. Louis, MO (KPLR)— They called it 'The Pike'. It was a stretch of Lindell a mile long and as wide as imagination. It was a very popular attraction in the St. Louis Worlds Fair of 1904.
There were circus elephants and cliff dwellers. Places to visit to China, Cairo and attend a Bedouin wedding. You could even witness creation and get a taste of the hereafter and wash it down with a cold beer. When it came time for the final farewell St. Louis faced a dilemma.
"The fair planners had a contractual obligation to demolish the fair grounds and return Forest Park to sort of a predetermined lands. They were legally obligated to do that. The problem on the Pike was they were all concessionaires and everything they had set up was all theirs. They couldn't sell it for anything. The costs of demolition were greater than the value of what there was to salvage," said Dr. Robert Archibald.
That's when some starting suggesting the pike be made a permanent. Among those who rejected the idea was Washington University. The pike practically began at its front entrance. So that was the end of the discussion.
Of the sixty attractions on The Pike perhaps the most popular was a horse named "Beautiful Jim Key." For 15 cents you could watch him use blocks to spell his name and even do math. His wonders were later celebrated in a song which included the verse:
I can count and I can add. Know my alphabet and that's not bad. I can even give you change. For a horse that seems strange.