the_crystal_palace_at_hyde_park_london_1851_john_mayall_daguerreotype11

Paxton’s Crystal Palace at Hyde Park (1851)

I recently finished reviewing Douglas Murphy‘s debut book The Architecture of Failure (2012). For whatever reason, the review took me much longer than I had anticipated. Nevertheless, I am extremely pleased with the result and have submitted it in the hope it might be published somewhere soon.

As a way of disburdening myself of its unbearable weight, in light of its completion, I’m including a gallery that features some of the more impressive photographs and renderings I was able to find of Paxton’s original Crystal Palace at Hyde Park (1851). Of course, it is important to make this specification given the widespread confusion surrounding it and a subsequent (heavily altered) iteration of the Palace after the bulk of its materials were relocated to Sydenham, only now with an arched transept running cruciform along it, bisecting the front vault.

For any Russian readers who might follow my blog, I will leave you with an abbreviated version of Dostoevskii’s literary treatment of the subject in Notes from Underground:

Вы верите в хрустальное здание, навеки нерушимое, то есть в такое, которому нельзя будет ни языка украдкой выставить, ни кукиша в кармане показать. Ну, а я, может быть, потому-то и боюсь этого здания, что оно хрустальное и навеки нерушимое и что нельзя будет даже и украдкой языка ему выставить.

Вот видите ли: если вместо дворца будет курятник и пойдет дождь, я, может быть, и влезу в курятник, чтоб не замочиться, но все-таки курятника не приму за дворец из благодарности, что он меня от дождя сохранил. Вы смеетесь, вы даже говорите, что в этом случае курятник и хоромы — все равно. Да, — отвечаю я, — если б надо было жить только для того, чтоб не замочиться.

Image gallery

2 thoughts on “Paxton’s Crystal Palace at Hyde Park (1851)

  1. I always regretted not being able to see Crystal Palace, rather like the Bastille there is nothing left to see.

    That is, except from the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, which were constructed for the new site at Sydenham Hill.

    I imagine it to be something like the Palm Houses in Kew Gardens, which, with the help of a few microdots, look into infinite space and rolling time.

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