The New York Crystal Palace: A look at New York City’s ill-fated Crystal Palace, a beautiful structure built on an abandoned cemetery on the outskirts of town.

In the mid-19th century, a castle of glass stood in the wilds of what is now a bustling part of New York City. It was an answer to a similar Crystal Palace in London, which had hosted an exhibition a couple years before.

The Crystal Palace and the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations was meant to represent American industry and ingenuity, but ended its days as a decrepit symbol of excess and mismanagement before going up in flames. Here’s part 1 of its story.

Highlights include:
• The story behind how NYC became a tourist destination
• Weird inventions like the “mechanical leech” and the “typeographer”
• The gardener-architect who built the world’s tallest fountain
• A sort of mini Eiffel Tower that sprouted up next to the Crystal Palace

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Pictures of the Crystal Palace

New York Crystal Palace

Birds Eye View of the New York Crystal Palace and Environs 1853 (from http://crystalpalace.visualizingnyc.org/)

Latting Observatory broadside ca. 1853 (from http://crystalpalace.visualizingnyc.org/)

Latting Observatory from Valentine’s manual of old New York

August Petermann and Karl Gildemeister, designers; August Petermann, lithographer. New York Exhibition Building, 1852. Lithograph. Museum of the City of New York

New York Crystal Palace Illustrated Description of the Building (from http://crystalpalace.visualizingnyc.org/)

The Crystal Palace Dome (from http://crystalpalace.visualizingnyc.org/)

New York, 1855. From the Latting Observatory. (from http://crystalpalace.visualizingnyc.org/)

From New-York in a nutshell by Frederick Saunders

The Crystal Palace Exterior View. Victor Prevost, photographer, New York. 1853–54. Salted paper photograph (from http://crystalpalace.visualizingnyc.org/)

The New York Crystal Palace and Latting Observatory 1853 (from http://crystalpalace.visualizingnyc.org/)

Present Appearance of the Crystal Palace (from http://crystalpalace.visualizingnyc.org/)

From Old New York yesterday & today by Henry Collins Brown, 1922

New York Crystal Palace

Birds Eye View of the New York Crystal Palace and Environs 1853 (from http://crystalpalace.visualizingnyc.org/)

 

 

Sources consulted

Books

Articles

  • A Mammoth Tree. NEW-YORK CITY. New York Daily Times (1851-1857); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]09 Aug 1855: 1

Websites

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crystal_Palace#The_Great_Exhibition_of_1851
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latting_Observatory
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Crystal_Palace
  • http://crystalpalace.visualizingnyc.org/digital-publication/
  • https://nypost.com/2018/02/03/nycs-first-architectural-wonder-went-down-in-flames/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Crystal_Palace
    bgc.bard.edu/gallery/exhibitions/3/new-york-crystal-palace-1853
  • https://www.boweryboyshistory.com/2015/03/the-crystal-palace-americas-first-worlds-fair-and-bizarre-treasures-of-the-19th-century.html
  • https://books.google.com/books?id=XRNBAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=crystal+palace+new+york+guide&hl=en&sa=X&ei=NCcMVabVJ8elgwTkhoPABQ&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=crystal%20palace%20new%20york%20guide&f=false
    https://books.google.com/books?id=9ecZAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=crystal+palace+new+york+guide&hl=en&sa=X&ei=NCcMVabVJ8elgwTkhoPABQ&ved=0CCIQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=crystal%20palace%20new%20york%20guide&f=false
  • https://lithub.com/the-question-of-homoeroticism-in-whitmans-poetry/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dalberg-Acton,_1st_Baron_Acton
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilded_Age
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horace_Greeley
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P._T._Barnum
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art
  • https://aleteia.org/2019/10/07/thorvaldsens-christus-was-once-considered-the-most-perfect-statue-of-christ-in-the-world/

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