The University of Wisconsin Press

Architecture / British History / Popular Culture


Palace of the People
The Crystal Palace at Sydenham 1854–1936
J. R. Piggott

The first definitive history of an icon of London’s Victorian Age

Built for the Great Exhibition of 1851, the Crystal Palace originally graced London’s Hyde Park with Joseph Paxton’s remarkable geometric design and groundbreaking use of glass elements, prefiguring the modern movement in architecture. After the exhibition a group of bankers, railway directors, and men of influence moved the structure to a new site in south London, rebuilt it to an even grander scale, and set about its promotion as a “palace for the multitude.” Here were exhibitions, concerts, and spectacles to fill a splendid day out for Londoners of all classes and interests. Filled with plaster casts of great art treasures, life-sized models of dinosaurs, waterworks, and gardens, the Crystal Palace became a center of both education and entertainment from the Victorian era through its destruction by fire in 1936.

J. R. Piggott is keeper of archives at Dulwich College in London.

Copublished with C. Hurst & Co., London

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March 2004
256 pp. 8 1/4 x 10
50 color illus., 110 b/w illus.
ISBN 978-0-299-20094-7 Paper

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Wisconsin edition for sale only in North and South America, U.S. dependencies, and the Philippines

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Updated 9/19/2014

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