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Guide to the New York Crystal Palace Records
1840-1858
 MS 443.13

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Julianna Monjeau

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on February 22, 2012
Finding Aid is written in English.

Historical Note

The Crystal Palace was an exhibition building for the 1853 World's Fair Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations in Reservoir Square (present day Bryant Park). The Crystal Palace was inspired by the Crystal Palace in London's Hyde Park, which was constructed for the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Continents in 1851. The Palace, constructed from iron and glass, was designed by Karl Gildemestier and Georg Carstensen. The building featured a 100-diameter glass dome and housed four thousand exhibitors who displayed the industrial wares, consumer goods, and artworks of their nation.

The mission of the Association of the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations was to build the New York Crystal Palace and mount an international exhibition of industry, on the model of the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in London. The Exhibition opened on July 14, 1853, with President Franklin Pierce in attendance, and received over a million visitors before it closed on November 1, 1854. The Crystal Palace remained standing after the Exhibition and was leased for a variety of smaller events, most notably the annual Fair of the American Institute.

The Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire on October 5, 1858. Witnesses described the flames spreading so rapidly that the central dome collapsed in less than fifteen minutes and the entire structure collapsed in less than thirty minutes. Fortunately, though the fire erupted while the Fair of the American Institute was in progress, no lives were lost.