History Book: The St. Louis World’s Fair, and the PG-13 rating

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Monday, July 1st. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD Radio History Book.

Today, the Motion Picture Association introduces a new rating to help parents choose age-appropriate content for their kids. Plus, eight years after the terror attacks of September 11th, the U.S. Park Service reopens a famous landmark.

REICHARD: But first, 115 years ago, the United States welcomes the world to the midwest—for the St. Louis World’s Fair, and its first American-hosted Olympic Games. Here’s Paul Butler.

SONG: [Meet Me in St. Louis, Louie]

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: The St. Louis World’s Fair opened on April 30th, 1904. The international exposition celebrated the centennial anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. During its seven month run, more than 19-million people visited the fair. One of the draws—the Olympic Games.

A few years earlier, the International Olympic Committee selected Chicago as the host city for the 1904 Olympics. But World’s Fair organizers worried than another international event held in the same year would cut into exposition attendance and profits. They threatened to put on their own sports competition. 

The Olympic Committee decided to partner with the World’s Fair instead. 

AUDIO: [Sound of gun firing and crowd cheer]

The third modern Olympic Games opened on July 1st, 1904. Of the 650 competitors, only 62 were international—as travel was difficult due to the Russo-Japanese War. 

Events were spread out over four-and-a-half months, and the fair often overshadowed them.   

That’s not to say the 1904 Olympic Games weren’t memorable. It was the first time gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded for the top three finishers in each event. New Olympic sports like boxing, water polo, and the decathlon all debuted during the event. 

Probably the most memorable athlete from the 1904 event was U.S. gymnast George Eyser who won six medals—even though he wore a prosthetic left leg.

Next, 35 years ago today. 

AUDIO: [Movie projector]

The Motion Picture Association of America introduces a new rating: PG-13. In the spring and early summer of 1984, two popular PG-rated movies pushed the limits of violent content. 

AUDIO: [Movie clip from Indiana Jones]

Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” and the Warner Brothers horror comedy: “The Gremlins.” 

AUDIO: [Movie clip from The Gremlins]

Spielberg lobbied for a category between PG and rated R. But MPAA president Jack Valenti opposed the suggestion, thinking it would confuse consumers and advertisers. Many theater owners worried that it would be next to impossible to enforce, since minors don’t carry IDs.  

But on July 1st, 1984, the rating group introduces the new classification anyway. The first film to carry the PG-13 label is: “Red Dawn,” a violent war film featuring Colorado teens who repel a Soviet invasion. 

AUDIO: [Movie clip from Red Dawn]

And finally, 10 years ago, July 4th, 2009. 

AUDIO: Visitors to the Statue of Liberty no longer have to be content with just patting Lady Liberty’s toes. They can once again venture up the narrow spiral staircase to her crown for the first time since the September 11th attacks. 

Nearly eight years after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Ellis Island reopens the Statue of Liberty crown observation deck. One tourist expresses optimism at the news. 

AUDIO: By allowing freedom to be on display again after such a fearful, terrible moment in our nation’s history is really inspiring. 

The only way to the top is by climbing the more than 350 narrow stairs. Visitors must order tickets three to four months in advance. And now they must have photo IDs.

AUDIO: The reopening of the crown definitely symbolizes, you know, that New Yorkers, or anyone else who comes here, aren’t scared. Aren’t afraid anymore… 

Since 2009, Lady Liberty’s observation deck has remained open: with only a few short closures for safety improvements a government shutdown. 

Last year, more than 4 million people visited the statue and Ellis Island, but only a few hundred people see it from above each day.

SONG: [Little River Band – Statue Of Liberty (1975)]

That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book. I’m Paul Butler.

(Photo/Washington University)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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