Following the internationally-famous success of the Crystal Palace in London at the 1851 Great Exhibition, several other overgrown greenhouses were built and named "Crystal Palace." New York's was built in 1853 on the current site of Bryant Park. The usual view shows the front of the building, facing Sixth Avenue, which at that time was more of a theory than an actual street.
What never seems to show up in these pictures is the old distributing reservoir for the Croton water system, which was immediately adjacent (at the current site of the public library) and was larger than the Crystal Palace. Here's one corner of it:
In any case, the great technological advance of the construction of exhibition buildings out of wrought iron and glass was that those materials don't burn, so the newfangled buildings were safer.
Of course, in 1858: