Sunday, March 28, 2010

Crystal, Baby

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:
London's original made it until 1936 before burning down.

17 comments:

Substance McGravitas said...

What was the point of safer meth labs?

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Yeah, I've always found the disconnect between "fireproof" building materials, and the furnishings in those supposedly fireproof buildings, to be funny, in a black, apocalyptic way.

Is it any wonder that humanity is destined to destroy its own planet?

N__B said...

Is it any wonder that humanity is destined to destroy its own planet?

It's all about feeding time for you, isn't it?

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Of course, since correcting engineers is part of my job, the great technological advance in wrought iron and glass buildings wasn't so much the non-flammability; that was considered a side benefit. But rather it was the ability to pre-fabricate and speed the construction of the buildings. Much reduction in man-hours and the amount of building material necessary made it easier and faster to put up GRAND buildings.

Of course, the contents all burned just fine.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

It's all about feeding time for you, isn't it?

Not so.

Very often, it's about DRINKING time.

You wound, sir.

In fact, I am despondent. Perhaps I need a drink.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I also am amused by the production of a postcard commemorating the conflagration.

Another Kiwi said...

There is even a (Not very good) soccer team called Crystal Palace

N__B said...

But rather it was the ability to pre-fabricate and speed the construction of the buildings.

That was critical in London, where the building committee waited until they didn't have time to build a traditional structure. In New York, there was plenty of time and the stated purpose was to imitate the London building's high tech.

Aunt Snow said...

Ooh! Come visit me and look at old LA buildings!

Including a story about shopping arcades inspired by the Crystal Palace.

(g is my Sadly No alias)

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I heard there was a blog thing going on?

Will cocktails and hors d'Ĺ“uvre be served (asking for a fiend)?
~

Another Kiwi said...

Ha ha too late, Mr Thunder. There were drinks and the little sausages with the red sauce. Now they are gone

Peter said...

*Hrmpph huff* what's all this then? A blog, is it? And straight away, molotov cocktails and burning buildings. I must suspect you, sir, of harboring liberal tendencies!

N__B said...

There were drinks and the little sausages with the red sauce. Now they are gone

Oooh, synchronicity. Tonight's roast is inedible - salty and overcooked - so it's hot-dog time!

N__B said...

Come visit me and look at old LA buildings!

Auntie S! Auntie S! Great stuff on the City Club/Roseland. I'm still working out how I can tell stories about some of my projects without screwing up my clients' confidentiality.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Midtown's Croton Reservoir-WOOT!

That's where the climactic "Boss" battle takes place.

Smut Clyde said...

It features in Caleb Carr's "The Alienist" if memory serves.

N__B said...

It features in Caleb Carr's "The Alienist" if memory serves.

And Doctorow's "The Waterworks" which is, IMO, the better novel.