Crystal Palace main image of print at center – dome and roof in flames. Crowds of viewers in front foreground and firemen at center pulling wagon.
In 1853, the New York Times published an ode to the Crystal Palace: “The nations meet, not in war, but in peace, beneath this dome. They meet to bring glory to God on high and goodwill to men. The Crystal Palace is a symbol of the might of Man. Look on, ye Nations, and vow eternal peace and justice.” The New York Crystal Palace was constructed two years after the first international exposition of arts and industries held in London in 1851. The London Crystal Palace, which celebrated the achievements of the world, inspired other cities to host their own world’s fairs. Using the latest technology, the New York Crystal Palace was constructed of hundreds of glass panels placed on an iron framework. The center of the building was topped with a dome, one hundred feet in diameter. Though a popular attraction, the New York Crystal Palace was a financial failure and the exposition closed with a substantial loss of over $100,000. On October 5, 1858, the structure caught fire during the annual fair of the American Institute. The 2,000 people in the building were evacuated by New York fire fighters. Ironically, the building which was called “fireproof,” burnt to the ground in less than thirty minutes.