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April 30: Jerusalem in St. Louis

April 29, 2015

stl3The World’s Fair in St. Louis, known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, opened on this date in 1904, the centennial of the signing of the Louisiana Purchase. The Fair would host nearly twenty million visitors, and included a Jerusalem Exhibit with a replica of the Old City that stretched over 10 acres and included three hundred buildings, including faithful copies of the Dome of the Rock, the Wailing Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Tower of David, connected by twenty-two streets and alleyways. Visitors could take a tour that followed in the footsteps of Jesus along the Via Dolorosa and included a manger scene and a crucifixion diorama. Camel and donkey rides were also offered, and some thousand actual Muslim, Christian, and Jewish residents of Jerusalem were in temporary residence, wearing their native clothing, conducting religious ceremonies, and working their crafts for the tourists. For a scholarly paper about the Jerusalem exhibit, with many interesting photos, click here.

LPE05022“All roads do not lead to Jerusalem, but all entrances to the Exposition will certainly lead to this New Jerusalem.” —World’s Fair prospectus