Originally published in: Journal of Filipino American National Historical Society, Vol. 2, 1992. This version is from: Heritage, Jun 1994, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p15, 4p, 3bw

The 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, also called the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, was held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the purchase of Louisiana from France by the United States.

At that time, Louisiana comprised nearly one-third of the present continental United States which presently includes the States of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, North and South Dakota, Montana, and parts of Minnesota, Wyoming, and Colorado.

The Fair was dubbed as the greatest of expositions, surpassing all others in size, in beauty and grandeur, and in variety. It lasted for seven months, from April 30 to December 1, 1904, with all states and territories participating, along with 45 nations and some 50 tribes from all over the world.

The Fair took six years to build and employed as many as 20,000 workers. There were 1,500 buildings sprawled in 1,275 acres of the fairgrounds. The total length of the aisles of the eight palaces alone was 142 miles.

There were about 3.5 million publicities in the first six months of the Fair with some 52,706 journalists participating. Attendance at the Fair totalled nearly 20 million with an average daily census of about 100,000 a day.

The Fair cost 15 million dollars to build, the same price that the United States had to pay for the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. After the Fair, the restoration of the grounds took three years at a cost of one million dollars.

From these staggering statistics, one can sense the immensity of the St. Louis World's Fair, at a time when the world was said to have come to St. Louis.


During the process of recruiting for the Philippine Exhibit, there was evident use of trickery on some occasions in order to gather tribal people for the Exhibit. Some of the recruits were not aware of their destination until they arrived in St. Louis. Similarly, a knowledgeable recruit had signed up as belonging to an Igorot tribe to which he does not belong in his desire to come to America.

The trip from the Philippines to the United States was by ship across the ocean and by train across the main land. The trip was long and difficult for some. In general, the recruits were well treated and well fed. Some became ill during the train ride due to the cold weather to which they were not accustomed. At least two people died due to illness.

The St. Louis World's Fair was the grandest of all Fairs and the Philippine Exhibit took the honor of being the largest and most popular one at this Fair. It occupied 47 acres of land, had 100 buildings and was the most expensive to build at a cost of two million dollars.

There were about 1,100 Filipinos at the Philippine Exhibit that included the Tagalogs, Visayans, Muslims, Igorots, Tinguianes, Pampangans, Kalingas, Mangyans, Negritos, and Bagobos.

The Filipinos were shown at their various stages of cultures, from the primitive to the highly cultured, such as one may find in many big cities of the world. Their homes at the Fair were built exactly as they were in the Philippines in a setting that simulated their traditional environment.

Additionally, they lived in a fashion that they would have back home. While the Philippine Constabulary Band's performances and many other Filipino programs and exhibits were highly regarded, the one that attracted the most interest and publicity were the Igorots.

The head-hunting, dog-eating Igorots were the greatest attraction at the Philippine Exhibit, not only because of their novelty, the scanty dressing of the males and their daily dancing to the tom-tom beats, but also because of their appetite for dog meat which is a normal part of their diet.

The city of St. Louis provided them a supply of dogs at the agreed amount of 20 dogs a week, but this did not appear to be sufficient, as they had also encouraged local people to bring them dogs which they bought to supplement their daily needs.

The poaching of dogs became so common in the area near the Igorot Village such that the neighborhood was warned to watch for their dogs; even then, many dogs were disappearing in this neighborhood, angering and upsetting many people.

There were obviously many people who objected to the supplying of dogs to the Igorots, particularly the St. Louis Women's Humane Society, but there were also many people, perhaps much more, who sympathized the Igorot's need for dog meat.

As one Missourian, who had been to the Philippines and realized the difficulty of not being able to eat the food that one is used to, noted, "Every dog has his day, and every man his meat." He donated 200 fat Missouri dogs to the Igorots!


Dogtown is a small community in the city of St. Louis, Missouri, south of Forest Park where the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair was held. There has been many reasons given for the origin of the name Dogtown. In fact, it appears that some of these reasons were valid.

It also appears that various overlapping areas in the vicinity of the present Dogtown and even an outlying one had been referred to as Dogtown at some point in time in St. Louis, for different reasons.

However, these areas that were referred to as Dogtown appear to have faded with time. In fact, one area called Dogtown that was located northeast of Forest Park was reported in a St. Louis newspaper as being an area of shacks and shanties and was razed to the ground by police.

The present Dogtown and the only one that survived in St. Louis, however, is the one ascribed to the Igorots. This Dogtown has its beginnings at the juncture of Oakland Avenue and Graham Street and towards Crescent Avenue, south of Forest Park, but eventually expanded to its present area bounded by Oakland Avenue to the north, Manchester Avenue to the south, McCausland Avenue to the west and Hampton Avenue to the east, with its present community center at the junction of Tamm and Clayton Avenues.


When the Igorots were at the Fair, their village was actually located in the city of Clayton next to Forest Park which belongs to the city of St. Louis. After the Fair, the whole village was razed to the ground and, years later, a private girl's school was built there called Hosmer Hall.

This was bought by the Clayton School District in 1936 and named Wydown School, serving as a ninth grade center until 1958 and an eighth grade school until 1965. In 1965, the seventh and eighth grades came together in the new Wydown Junior High School and the old Wydown School was razed to the ground. In 1988, the school's name was changed to Wydown Middle School.

The Wydown School students started the Igorrote Yearbook in 1937, and at about the same time, the Igorrote Football Team was formed. The use of the Igorrote name probably lasted until 1974 when interscholastic football games were prohibited and only intramural football games were allowed.

The use of Igorrote as the yearbook and football team's name was in memory of the Igorots and their village whose former site is now the present athletic field of Wydown Middle School.


The hot dog, one of the most popular American foods, appears to be another legacy of the Igorot presence at the St. Louis World's Fair.

It first appeared at the St. Louis World's Fair among several other firsts such as the first ice cream cone, the first iced tea, the first Olympic Games in America (Third World Olympics), the first sliced bread, and the first coin changer. Even though many people will claim that the hot dog has been known for a long time before the St. Louis World's Fair, it is not so.

What was known, even as early as the late Middle Ages in Europe, was the making of sausages and it was a German butcher, Johann Georg Lahner, who developed prototypes in Frankfurt and later in Vienna, that were called frankfurter and wiener.

These franks, along with other types of sausages, were later brought to America by German immigrants in the nineteenth century. In New York, in 1900, a concessionaire sold a Lahner-type frank tie called a "Dachsund sausage" that was later sketched by a cartoonist in the form of a dachsund in a roll.

However, it was not until the St. Louis World's Fair that a sausage-on-a-bun was made up to be called the "hot dog" for the first time. It is evident that sausages were known for a long time and were called by various names, but it was the St. Louis World's Fair that gave the name "hot dog" to America.

Why was it called a hot dog instead of the already known names with which it has been associated? Was it because the sausage was made of dog meat? No, certainly not. The American public would just be horrified at the time to think of eating dog meat.

Was it then because the sausage was crafted to look like a dog or the bun shaped into the form of a dog? Again, the answer is no. Then why was it called a hot dog when there is nothing that could be associated with a dog in a hot dog? To me the answer is simple.

We have said earlier that St. Louis World's Fair was the greatest of expositions that there ever was. We also said that the Philippine Exhibit was the largest one at the Fair and was considered as a Fair within a Fair.

Then we also said that the Igorots were the top attraction at the Philippine exhibit, not only because of their primitive skimpy attire and their constant dancing, but also because of their dog-eating custom.

The city supplied them with dogs and they also bought dogs from the neighborhood, in addition to receiving donations of dogs from other sources, for their food supply. The people in the neighborhood near the Igorot Village were concerned, upset, and angered at times because of the disappearance of dogs in their neighborhood.

The people in the city of St. Louis and surrounding areas were engaged in an on-going debate about the use of dogs by the Igorots. This was evident in the newspapers of the day which carried regular news, letters, and comments concerning the eating of dogs by the Igorots.

In short, the atmosphere in and around the Fair and in the newspaper media was saturated by the thoughts of the dog-eating custom of the Igorots. Their dog-eating activities at the Fair had been referred to as the "Bow-Wow Feast" and we may look at it now as the first "Bow-Wow Feast" in America by the Igorots, or perhaps even just the first "Bow-Wow Feast" in America.

I have no doubt that the name "hot dog" was picked as a label for the sausage-on-a-bun to attract the attention of potential customers at the Fair by riding on the popularity of the eating of dogs by the Igorots, which had inspired the creation of the name.

Thus, it would appear that in the hot dog, the sausage is German, the sausage-on-a-bun is an American label inspired by the dog-eating custom of the Igorots.


The Exposition was an educational experience for the Filipinos at the Exhibit as well as for the viewing American public. There were many instances at the Exposition that displayed the similarity of people regard less of origin or degree of civilization, or showed the basic human values in everyone, and at the same time having customs and ways that may be shocking to each other.

At the end of the Exposition, the Filipinos went home apparently satisfied and happy for their experiences in America, but also glad to be safely back home. Upon their return to Manila, they were given clothings and paid a sum in silver money.

Dogtown, a still thriving small community in the city of St. Louis with its own chamber of commence, has had a poor reputation for a long while due to the impression that it began as an area of shacks and shanties and, later, of taverns and bars. However, the area has gradually improved with time although the reputation has held. Recently, a movie based on a book was made where Dogtown was the setting of the story and where the filming was also done.

In closing, I dedicate this poem to the Igorots who came to America.


The Igorots are long gone
From the scene at the Fair
And the Fair itself
Is no more
But the Igorot legacy
In the heart of America
Will be there
Forever more.


I wish to acknowledge the special help of Dr. Jere Hochman and Mrs. Marti G. Ribbins from Wydown Middle School, Clayton, Missouri for their help in providing me information about the school yearbook and football team; of Atty. William Quinn of "Dogtown"; and of Dr. Benito Rivera of St. Louis, Missouri for his guidance in gathering information from other sources.

By Virgilio R. Pilapil, M.D.

Dr. Virgilio R. Pilapil, contributing editorand Columnist of Heritage, is a pediatrician and pediatric cardiologist with private practice in Springfield, Illinois.

He is the founding president of the Springfield-based Filipino American Historical Society, an affiliate of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS), the national organization.

More information about Dr. Pilapil is available in the June 1992 issue of Heritage magazine where he was the cover story. Dogtown U.S.A. was first published in the Journal of Filipino American National Historical Society, Vol. 2, 1992.


Bibliography Oral history Recorded history Photos
YOUR page External links Walking Tour

Bob Corbett