A Brief History
On May 1, 1851, Queen Victoria opened The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, a sort of World’s Fair, in Hyde Park, London, England at a spectacular edifice known as The Crystal Palace.
So impressive was the venue, many people called the event the “Crystal Palace Exhibition.” Lasting from May 1st to October 15th, 1851, the celebration of industry, culture, and art attracted numerous celebrities, such as Sam Colt, Michael Faraday, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carrol, Charlotte Bronte, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and other stars.
Designed by Joseph Paxton, the building consisted of large sheets of glass in metal framework, a fairly new innovation at the time. Covering 990,000 square feet of floor space, the footprint of the Palace was 1,851 feet long and 456 feet wide, rising 128 high, dazzling visitors more than the exhibits.
The great glass building lasted until 1936, when a fire broke out and caused so much damage that the building had to be destroyed. Plans to rebuild the Palace have so far come to naught.
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For more information, please see…
Shears, Jonathan, editor. The Great Exhibition, 1851: A sourcebook. Manchester University Press, 2017.
Stanley, Maurice. The Crystal Palace. Independently published, 2020.
The featured image in this article, a painting by Henry Courtney Selous of The Opening of the Great Exhibition by Queen Victoria on 1 May 1851, is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 70 years or fewer.
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