The Crystal Palace

Topics: The Crystal Palace, Hyde Park, London, The Great Exhibition Pages: 11 (3806 words) Published: February 27, 2007
The Crystal Palace is a vital part of England's history. Constructed in the midst of England's Victorian Era, the Crystal Palace was conceived to symbolize this industrial, military and economic superiority of Great Britain ("The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace"). The Crystal Palace was designed by Joseph Paxton for the purpose of hosting the Great Exhibition in 1851. The construction of the Crystal Palace was rapid due to the controversial design of Joseph Paxton. Therefore, the Crystal Palace has been the center of discussions for over a century and a half because of its design and purpose.

The man that gained his fame from merely designing the Crystal Palace is Joseph Paxton. The rest of his life is of little interest to the world. Paxton was born the son of a gardener (Perry and Mason 167). Given the times, he should have led the life of a lower classmen, a laborer. But, Paxton's energy and perseverance were meant for greater things; they allowed for him to be successful self-made man that he was (Harling 238-240). When people are driven they are capable of achieving huge accomplishments. They are willing to stop at nothing in order to succeed. This is why Paxton is noted for his various occupations. Paxton was known as a gardener, inventor, and entrepreneur (Matthew 261). It was through his original profession that Paxton's talents became noticed. Paxton worked for many noblemen as a landscape architect. It was when he worked for the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth that his talents were noticed. Paxton was capable of conducting business and handling large projects. He also designed the greenhouses for the massive gardens that he oversaw (Harling 238-240). Paxton never received a college education (Perry and Mason 167). If Paxton had gone to college and received formal architectural training he might not have been as familiar with glass and iron, but since observed what worked with greenhouses and studied independently he was more familiar with the materials than anyone. Had Paxton never had his experience using iron and glass to design greenhouses, the Crystal Palace would have never been and who knows what might have come about from the Great Exhibition. It was through his design of the Crystal Palace that Joseph Paxton cemented his place in history (Harling 238-240). The Crystal Palace eventually led to the knighting of Paxton ("Joseph Paxton").

It was through the Great Exhibition that England was able to show how powerful it was as a nation. The Crystal Palace served a great purpose for Victorian England when it needed to represent how its capitalist market dominated the rest of the world (Richards 3-4). In the early 19th century there was a problem representing commodities in the world (Richards 3-4). The gigantic structure was built to house one hundred thousand commodities. The Crystal Palace allowed for meaningless items to shine and capitalism came to show its other forms, which England dominated the rest of the world. Advertising came about and the Crystal Palace became known as a "modern day shopping mall" (Richards 3-4). The Great Exhibition allowed for people from all over the world to see what other countries were up to as far as industry goes. The Crystal Palace became the centerpiece in what would become known as "the 1st World's Fair" (Richards 17). It allowed for advertisers to bring everything together in an international market and museum (Richards 21). Being in the middle of it all, hosting over 14,000 international exhibitors and 6 million visitors, the Crystal Palace stood for British economic power. Before the Great Exhibition, "No other country, before or since, has achieved such hegemony in the world economy" (Matthew 41). Basically, hosting the Great Exhibition allowed for England to flex its industrial muscle. Once the Great Exhibition ended the Crystal Palace was taken down and re-erected in Sydenham, South London where it would be used for band...

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Matthew, Colin. The Nineteenth Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Perry, George, and Nicholas Mason. The Victorians a World Built to Last. New York: The Viking Press, Inc, 1974.
Richards, Thomas. The Commodity Culture of Victorian England. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press,
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