The Great Exhibition was suggested in 1849 by Prince Albert at a meeting of the Royal Society of Arts.  His intent was to show the world that industry and art could be combined, and to draw attention to Great Britain as a world industrial power.  The center piece of the exhibition was the Crystal Palace, a large exhibition hall 563 meters long and 124 meters wide with walls of glass that shimmered like crystal in the light. Joseph Paxton (see picture) was selected to design the building, based on his earlier creation of a glass conservatory. The framework was to be of iron, with glass panels.  The Crystal Palace was opened on May 1, 1851 by Queen Victoria, who in the first three months came almost every other day.  The Crystal Palace housed exhibitions from around the world, including such varied items as exotic diamonds and other stones, false teeth, artificial limbs, carriages, powerful steam engines, leather goods, glass art, automated cotton spinning machines, chewing tobacco, Colt's repeating pistol and cutlery.  The exhibition closed on October 15, 1851, having been visited by over six million people, including perhaps Dr. John Snow.  It was deemed highly successful, with entrance money used to fund other civic programs.  The Crystal Palace was taken down in 1852 and re-assembled in Sydenham, south of the River Thames, well beyond the boundaries of the 1859 map (see below and column 3, row 4 of Snow's Map 2).  

Due to its short existence, the original location of the Crystal Palace is not seen on most maps, including Reynolds's map of 1859.  It was located in N 8, just above the north end of Princess Terrace in O 8, and close to Kensington Gardens.  The exact location is seen on Wyld's New Plan map of 1851 (see below) and in a 2000 depiction of London in 1851 (see below).  Also presented are a painting of the exhibition, a lithograph of the palace, a photograph of the entrance to the Crystal Palace, and a photograph of the interior of the Crystal Palace. 


(Quarter Mile Section - N 8)


Barker F, Jackson P. The History of London in Maps, 1990.

Dodd JW. The Age of Paradox, 1953.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2000.

Richardson J. The Annals of London, 2000.

Weinreb B, Hibbert C (eds). The London Encyclopaedia, 1993.

Map of 1851

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2000 Image of 1851 Site Map

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Construction of The Crystal Palace in 1850

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Opening of Great Exhibition in 1851

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Dickinson's Picture of Great Exhibition in 1851

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Butler Picture in 1851

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Photograph in 1851a

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Photograph in 1851b

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Burton Lithograph in 1851

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Sydenham Location in Map of 1854

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