ST. LOUIS – The first Summer Olympics held in the U.S. looked unlike anything that had happened previously in Europe.
Or that would happen again anywhere else.
The Games originally were awarded to Chicago for 1904, but organizers of the World's Fair in St. Louis put up such a fuss about a second international event held simultaneously that they threatened to have their own athletic events. It took the founder of the modern Olympic movement, Pierre de Coubertin, to forge peace by moving the Olympics south.
Not that he did so with much glee. Writing later of the bizarre extravaganza that took place that summer, de Coubertin said: "I had a sort of presentiment that the Olympiad would match the mediocrity of the town.”
Fred Lorz looked to have won the marathon — until it was discovered that he rode part way in a car. Organizers ran “Anthropology Days,” when members of indigenous tribes from around the world on hand for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition were plucked from the fair and told to compete with no warning. Boxing and freestyle wrestling debuted, sports that have clung to the Summer Olympics until the present day, along with long-since-forgotten croquet and tug-of-war events.
Vestiges of the 1904 Games still stand today.