Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace .—One especial object of interest in the southern vicinity of London is the far-famed Crystal Palace.  This structure, in many respects one of the most remarkable in the world, owed its existence to the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park.  The materials of that building being sold to a new company towards the close of that year, were transferred to an elevated spot near Sydenham, about 7 miles from London.  The intention was to found a palace and park for the exhibition of objects in art and science, and to make it self-paying.  The original estimate was £500,000, but the expenditure reached nearly £1,500,000—too great to render a profitable return likely.  The palace and grounds were opened in 1854; the water-towers and great fountains some time afterwards.  The marvels of this unparalleled structure cannot be described within a limited space. Crystal PalaceThe building is about 1600 feet long, 380 wide, and, at the centre transept, nearly 200 high.  It consists of a nave and three transepts, all with arched roofs, and all made chiefly of iron and glass.  Within, the building consists of a central nave, having marble fountains near the two ends, and lined with statues and plants throughout its whole length.  On each side of the nave are compartments to illustrate the sculpture and architecture of different ages and countries; such as Greek, Roman, Assyrian, Pompeian, Egyptian, Alhambraic or Saracenic, Romanesque, Byzantine, Mediæval, in its English, French, and German varieties, Renaissance, Palladian, and Elizabethan.  Other compartments illustrate certain industrial groups, such as cutlery, porcelain, paper, encaustic tiles, &c.  On the first gallery are large collections of pictures, photographs, and casts from medallions and small works of art.  Near the centre transept are all the necessary arrangements for two concert-rooms—one on a stupendous scale, in which 5000 singers and instrumentalists can sometimes be heard at once. Interior, Crystal PalaceAn orchestra of unparalleled dimensions is constructed here for great festival commemorations, and similar musical meetings.  The botanical collection within the building is very fine; and to preserve the exotic plants, one end of the building is maintained at a high temperature all the year round.  Some portions of the galleries are let out as stalls or bazaars to shopkeepers; and very extensive arrangements are made for supplying refreshments.  In an upper gallery is a museum of raw produce.  In long galleries in the basement are exhibited agricultural implements, and cotton and other machinery in motion.

Crystal Palace Fountains

The park and gardens are extensive, occupying nearly 200 acres; they are beautifully arranged, and contain an extremely fine collection of flowers and other plants, occupying parterres separated by broad gravel-walks.  The terraces, stone balustrades, wide steps, and sculptures, are all on a very grand scale.  The fountains are perhaps the finest in the world, some of them sending up magnificent streams of water to a great height, and some displaying thousands of minute glittering jets interlacing in the most graceful manner.  A portion of the water is made to imitate cascades and waterfalls.  The jet from the central basin rises to 150 feet; and those from the two great basins to 250 feet.  There are two cascades, each 450 feet long, 100 wide, and having a tall of 12 feet.  When the whole of the waterworks are playing, there are 12,000 jets in all; and when this continues for the length of time customary on some of the ‘grand days,' the water consumed is said to amount to 6,000,000 gallons.  Two water-towers of enormous height, (nearly 300 feet from the foundations,) to which water is pumped up by steam-engines, supply the water-pressure by which the fountains are fed.  The illustrations of extinct animals and of geology, in the lower part of the grounds, are curious and instructive.

Railway trains, running frequently during the day, give access to the Crystal Palace, from the Pimlico and London Bridge stations of the Brighton Company, from the Kensington and Chelsea stations of the West London Railway, from the Waterloo station of the South-Western viâ Wimbledon, and from the Ludgate Hill and other stations of the Chatham and Dover.  The last-named company have built an elegant and convenient ‘high-level' station, in front of the main centre transept.  The Crystal Palace is a shilling exhibition; but the greater number of visitors only pay 1s. 6d. each for a ticket (third class) which insures admission to the palace and grounds, and the railway journey there and back; first and second class tickets are higher; and there are days on which admission to the palace is also higher.  A whole week might be spent in examining the various treasures; for the Crystal Palace and grounds are interesting in each of the following features:—Sculpture; Illustrations of Architecture; Pictures and Photographs; Illustrations of Mechanics and Manufactures; Botany; Ethnology, or Illustrations of National Characteristics; Palæontology, or Extinct Animals; Geology; Hydraulic skill in the Fountains; and Musical facilities of an unprecedented kind.  There are also facilities in the grounds for Cricket, Archery, Boating, Athletic Exercises, and Sports of other kinds, either regularly or occasionally.  The directors must be credited with the undoubted excellence of their Choral Festivals and Orchestral Concerts.  For great holiday demonstrations, too, there is nothing else at all equal to the Crystal Palace in the kingdom; and railways give access to it from almost every part of the metropolis.