The 1904 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the III Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event which was celebrated in St. Louis, Missouri, United States from August 29 until September 3, 1904, as part of an extended sports program lasting from July 1 to November 23, 1904, at what is now known as Francis Field on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis. It was the first time that the Olympic Games were held outside Europe.
Tensions caused by the Russo–Japanese War and the difficulty of getting to St. Louis in 1904 may have contributed to the fact that very few top ranked athletes from outside the US and Canada took part in these Games. Only 62 of the 651 athletes who competed came from outside North America, and only 12–15 nations were represented in all. Some events combined the U.S. national championship with the Olympic championship.
The current three-medal (gold, silver and bronze for first, second and third places) format was introduced at the 1904 Olympics.
|Games of the III Olympiad|
Advertisement for the 1904 Summer Olympics and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition
|Host city||St. Louis, Missouri, United States|
|Athletes||651 (645 men, 6 women)|
|Events||95 in 16 sports (17 disciplines)|
The city of Chicago, Illinois won the bid to host the 1904 Summer Olympics, but the organizers of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis would not accept another international event in the same time frame.
The exposition organization began to plan for its own sports activities, informing the Chicago OCOG that its own international sports events intended to eclipse the Olympic Games unless they were moved to St. Louis. Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic movement, stepped in and awarded the Games to St. Louis.
The St. Louis organizers treated the Games in a manner similar to the 1900 Summer Olympics, with competitions reduced to a side-show of the World's Fair and overshadowed by other, more popular cultural exhibits. David R. Francis, the President of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, declined to invite anybody else to open the Games and on July 1 did so himself in a short, disorganized and poorly attended ceremony.
Officially, the games lasted for four and a half months, with James Edward Sullivan attempting to hold a sporting event every day for the duration of the fair. The Olympic-calibre events were mixed with other sporting events that Sullivan also called "Olympic", with the IOC declaring that 94 or 95 of these events were Olympic. The actual athletics events that formed the bulk of the recognized Olympic sports were held from Monday, August 29 to Saturday, September 3.
Boxing, dumbbells, freestyle wrestling and the decathlon made their debuts. The swimming events were held in a temporary pond near Skinker and Wydown Boulevards, where "lifesaving demonstrations" of unsinkable lifeboats for ocean liners took place. The organizers of the World's Fair held "Anthropology Days" on August 12 and 13.
One of the most remarkable athletes was the American gymnast George Eyser, who won six medals even though his left leg was made of wood, and Frank Kugler won four medals in freestyle wrestling, weightlifting and tug of war, making him the only competitor to win a medal in three different sports at the same Olympic Games.
Chicago runner James Lightbody won the steeplechase and the 800 m and then set a world record in the 1500 m. Harry Hillman won both the 200 m and 400 m hurdles and also the flat 400 m. Sprinter Archie Hahn was champion in the 60 m, 100 m and 200 m. In this last race, he set an Olympic record in 21.6, a record that stood for 28 years. In the discus, after American Martin Sheridan had thrown exactly the same distance as his compatriot, Ralph Rose (39.28 m), the judges gave them both an extra throw to decide the winner. Sheridan won the decider and claimed the gold medal. Ray Ewry again won all three standing jumps.
The team representing Great Britain was awarded a total of two medals, both won by Irish athletes. The top non-USA athlete was Emil Rausch of Germany, who won three swimming events. Zoltan Halmay of Hungary and Charles Daniels of the United States each won two swimming gold medals. Galt Football Club from Canada won the gold medal in football.
94 events in 17 disciplines, comprising 16 sports, were part of the Olympic program in 1904. Swimming and diving are considered two disciplines of the same sport, aquatics. The number of events in each discipline is noted in parentheses.
Water polo is also mentioned in the games reports for the 1904 Summer Olympics. However, it was not considered at the time to be a demonstration sport and, even though it has since been classified as such, it has not been included retrospectively in the IOC's official medal database.
Five sports venues were used for the 1904 Summer Olympics. The venues included the first golf course constructed west of the Mississippi River. Three of the sports venues were on the site for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition which was being held concurrently with the Olympics. Glen Echo Country Club became the first golf course west of the Mississippi River when it opened in 1901. It is still in use as of 2017. Forest Park was where the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition took place, and it hosted the diving, swimming, and water polo events on the Life Saving Exhibition Lake. During the water polo events, several of the cattle from a World's Fair livestock exhibit were allowed to enter the lake, on the opposite side from the swimming and water polo events. Within one year, four of those athletes died of typhus.
Creve Coeur Lake became the first park of St. Louis County in 1945. The Lake has hosted rowing regattas since 1882 and still hosts them as of 2010. Francis Field and Gymnasium are still in use on the Washington University in St. Louis campus as of 2018. An ornamental gate commemorating the 1904 Games was constructed outside the stadium immediately after the Exposition. A swimming pool was added to the gymnasium in 1985. Forest Park, constructed in 1876, is still in use as of 2018 and attracts over 12 million visitors annually. Glen Echo Country Club remains in use as a golf course today as of 2018.
|Creve Coeur Lake||Rowing||Not listed.|||
|Francis Field||Archery, Athletics, Cycling, Football, Gymnastics, Lacrosse, Roque, Tennis, Tug of war, Weightlifting, Wrestling||19,000|||
|Francis Gymnasium||Boxing, Fencing||Not listed.|||
|Forest Park||Diving, Swimming, Water Polo||Not listed.|||
|Glen Echo Country Club||Golf||Not listed.|||
Athletes from twelve nations competed in St. Louis. Numbers in parentheses indicate the number of known competitors for each nation. Due to the difficulty of getting to St. Louis in 1904, and European tensions caused by the Russo-Japanese War, only 62 athletes from outside North America came to the Olympics.
Some sources also list athletes from the following nations as having competed at these Games.
These are the top ten nations to win medals at the 1904 Games.
|Totals (10 nations)||96||92||92||280|
The nationalities of many medalists are disputed, as many American competitors were recent immigrants to the United States who had not yet been granted US citizenship.
In 2009, historians from the International Society of Olympic Historians discovered that cyclist Frank Bizzoni, formerly thought to be an American, was still an Italian citizen when he competed in 1904, being granted US citizenship in 1917.
The International Olympic Committee considers Norwegian-American wrestlers Charles Ericksen and Bernhoff Hansen to have competed for the United States. Each man won a gold medal. In 2012, Norwegian historians however found documentation showing that Ericksen did not receive American citizenship until March 22, 1905, and that Hansen probably never received American citizenship. The historians have therefore petitioned the IOC to have the athletes registered as Norwegians. In May 2013, it was reported that the Norwegian Olympic Committee had filed a formal application for changing the nationality of the wrestlers in the IOC's medal database; as of April 2018, no decision has yet been made.
Francis Gailey competed in 1904 as an Australian and immigrated to America in 1906, sailing to San Francisco in the SS Sonoma. He worked as a banker in California, lived for a time in Ontario, Canada, where he married Mary Adams, and finally settled in 1918 in southern California, managing orange-grove plantations.
Gustav Thiefenthaler was born in Switzerland but the family moved to the United States when he was young. He represented the South Broadway AC in St. Louis. At the Olympics, Tiefenthaler wrestled one bout and lost, but earned a bronze medal for his efforts.
The IOC also lists French-American Albert Corey as a United States competitor for his marathon silver medal, but (together with four undisputed Americans) as part of a mixed team for the team race silver medal.
The IOC counts one gold, one silver, and two bronze medals won by the American fencer Van Zo Post for Cuba instead of the United States. The IOC also shows Charles Tatham as Cuban for individual fencing events and American for the team event; he was an American.
| Summer Olympic Games
III Olympiad (1904)
At the 1904 Summer Olympics, twenty-five athletics events were contested. A total of 74 medals (25 gold, 25 silver, 24 bronze) were awarded.
Multi-event competitions, the all-around and triathlon, were introduced. The short steeplechase was lengthened slightly, from 2500 to 2590 metres, while the long steeplechase was dropped. The 5000 metre team race was replaced with the 4 mile team race (6,437 m). A 56-pound weight throw was added. In all, the 25 events featured in 1904 were 2 more than were held in 1900.Athletics at the 1904 Summer Olympics – Men's marathon
The men's marathon at the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis took place on August 30 of that year, over a distance of 24.85 miles (39.99 km). Thirty-two athletes representing four nations competed, but only 14 managed to finish the race, which proved to be a bizarre affair due to poor organization and officiating.Instead of having the marathon begin early in the morning, St. Louis organizers started it in the afternoon. Temperatures during the marathon reached 33 °C (92 °F) and humidity reached into the 90s, making the heat index during the marathon about 57 °C (135 °F). The race began and ended in the stadium, but the rest of the course was on dusty country roads with race officials riding in vehicles ahead of and behind the runners, creating dust clouds.Charles Armstrong (rower)
Charles Ewing Armstrong (October 23, 1881 – March 12, 1952) was an American rower who competed in the 1904 Summer Olympics.
He was born in Philadelphia. In 1904, he was part of the American boat that won the gold medal in the men's eight.Cuba at the 1904 Summer Olympics
Cuba competed at the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, United States.Cycling at the 1904 Summer Olympics
At the 1904 Summer Olympics, seven cycling events were contested.
It was the only time distances based on the mile were used to determine the length of events.Football at the 1904 Summer Olympics
At the 1904 Summer Olympics, a football event was contested. Three club teams competed. Medals were awarded for the first time in Olympic history. The 1904 contest is considered to be an official contest by the IOC.
The 1904 Games were spread over several months, linked to the St. Louis World's Fair, and football was the last sport to be contested, in November. The tournament was played as a straight round robin, although the game between Christian Brothers College and St. Rose Parish was replayed twice due to a draw.Frank Schell
Frank Reamer Schell (October 22, 1884 – December 5, 1959) was an American rower who competed in the 1904 Summer Olympics.
In 1904, he was part of the American boat, which won the gold medal in the eights.Frederick Cresser
Frederick "Fred" Cresser (born March, 1872, date of death unknown) was an American rower who competed in the 1904 Summer Olympics.
He was born in the German Empire.
In 1904, he was part of the American boat, which won the gold medal in the eights.Gymnastics at the 1904 Summer Olympics – Men's team
The men's team was an artistic gymnastics event held as part of the Gymnastics at the 1904 Summer Olympics programme. It was the first time a team event, in the sense of combining scores of individual gymnasts, was held at the Olympics. Previous team events had been performances by large groups of gymnasts at a single time. The competition was held on Friday, July 1, 1904 and on Saturday, July 2, 1904.
Seventy eight gymnasts competed in 13 teams. The scores of the top 6 members of each team counted toward the team total.Harry Lott
Harry Hunter Lott (January 13, 1880 – February 5, 1949) was an American rower who competed in the 1904 Summer Olympics, winning the gold medal in the men's eight. He was born in Philadelphia.
Lott rowed for the Vesper Boat Club while he was a medical student at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. After the Olympics, he earned his medical degree and practiced in Philadelphia as an otolaryngologist specializing in diseases of the ear. He eventually became a professor at his alma mater, which was eventually renamed Thomas Jefferson University.James Flanagan (rower)
James Showers Flanagan (1884 – March 28, 1937) was an American rower who competed in the 1904 Summer Olympics.
In 1904, he was part of the American boat, which won the gold medal in the eights.James Juvenal
James Benner Juvenal (January 12, 1874 – September 1, 1942) was an American rower, born in Philadelphia, who competed in the 1900 Summer Olympics and in the 1904 Summer Olympics.
In 1900, he was part of the American boat Vesper Boat Club, which won the gold medal in the eights.
Four years later, he won the silver medal in the single sculls event.John Exley
John Onins Exley Jr. (May 23, 1867 – July 27, 1938) was an American rower, born in Philadelphia, who competed in the 1900 Summer Olympics and in the 1904 Summer Olympics.In 1900, he was part of the American boat Vesper Boat Club, which won the gold medal in the men's eight. Four years later, he won his second gold medal in the men's eight.Joseph Dempsey
Joseph Francis "Joe" Dempsey (October 12, 1875 – August 7, 1942) was an American rower, born in Philadelphia, who competed in the 1904 Summer Olympics.
In 1904, he was part of the American boat, which won the gold medal in the men's eight.Louis Abell
Louis Grenville "Lou" Abell (July 21, 1884 – October 25, 1962) was an American rower who competed in the 1900 Summer Olympics and in the 1904 Summer Olympics. He was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, which was also the location of his death.In 1900, he was the coxswain of the American boat Vesper Boat Club, which won the gold medal in the men's eight. Four years later, he won his second gold medal as coxswain of the American boat in the eight.Michael Gleason
Michael D. "Mike" Gleason (November 16, 1876 – January 11, 1923) was an American rower, born in Philadelphia, who competed in the 1904 Summer Olympics.
In 1904, he was part of the American boat, which won the gold medal in the eights.Roque at the 1904 Summer Olympics
At the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, a roque tournament was contested. It was the only time that roque was included in the Olympic program.Rowing at the 1904 Summer Olympics – Men's eight
The men's eights was a rowing event held as part of the Rowing at the 1904 Summer Olympics programme. It was the second time the event was held at the Olympics. The competition was held on Saturday, July 30, 1904. Two crews, one from the United States and one from Canada, competed.Water polo at the 1904 Summer Olympics
At the 1904 Summer Olympics, a water polo tournament was contested. Only American contestants participated; three teams of 7 players each entered. Water polo is mentioned in the games reports for the 1904 Summer Olympics, but currently water polo event is not included in the IOC's medal database for 1904 Olympics, and currently IOC consider water polo event as part of unofficial programme in 1904.
The event took place in a pond in Forest Park, the location of both the Olympics and the World's Fair.
|Participating National Olympic Committees|
Events at the 1904 Summer Olympics (St. Louis)