The New York Crystal Palace

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The New York Crystal Palace: The Great Exhibition of Art and Industry

"The Crystal Palace is a partial picture of the age; an exposition of the comforts and luxuries, the manners and attainments which belong to our civilization."

-B. Silliman & C. R. Goodrich

(The World of Science, Art and Industry at the Crystal Palace, New York, 1854)

On July 14, 1853, the Great Exhibition of Art and Industry began in New York City, New York, with the commemoration of the Crystal Palace, the central exhibition hall. The next day, President Franklin Pierce inaugurated the event with a grand ceremony. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis was also on hand. Modeled on the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London, which had opened a few years earlier for the Exhibition of the Products of the Art and Industry of All Nations, New York's Crystal Palace was larger than its predecessor, and it inspired everyone who saw it. This exhibition included a display of sculpture that was probably the largest ever held in the United States up to that time. There was also a separate gallery for the display of paintings. It was the first world's fair to include a separate picture gallery as part of its exhibits.

This image is Stuart's Topological Map of the Crystal Palace and Guide to the Revised Official Catalogue of the Exhibition of the Industries of All Nations. The map was prepared by Henri C. Stuart and published by G.P. Putnam and Co. for the use of visitors to the New York Crystal Palace. With the accompanying legend, visitors would be able to see the layout of all the exhibit classes in the building, as well as the entrances and stairways. As seen in this plan, all the room in the spacious building was used for displaying the different forms of industry. The position of the Machine Gallery in relation to the Crystal Palace can also be seen. The restrooms are between the Palace and the Gallery, adjacent to Saloon areas for the Gents and Ladies respectively. In addition, for the convenience of visitors, a note below the map states, "Wherever this sign (*) occurs on the diagram, is a prominent point of interest to the visitor." The sculptures displayed along the main naves are clearly labeled, so that one could use them as "You Are Here" signs to know where one was on the diagram.
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