Crystal Palace

Designed and built by Joseph Paxton in London’s Hyde Park The Crystal Palace was a gigantic showcase for splendid examples of British ingenuity and design revealed at the Great Exhibition of 1851 organized by the clever consort of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert. It was removed in 1854 to Sydenham and set on top of a hill commanding a panoramic view of the countryside. A commercial enterprise ‘erected for the intellectual improvement and physical recreation of all classes’ it was set among formal gardens with stone terraces leading down the hill. It could be considered one of the first theme parks. Plaster models of animals were displayed on islands in the lake of a vast landscaped park with an aquarium and model of a coalmine built to educate visitors. Despite objections by influential people who deplored ‘the flood of pedestrians who left it filthy with cigar ashes’ it became enormously popular with middle class families.

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