The Lost History of the New York Crystal Palace

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Hello everybody. My name is Ed Witkowski. I been wanting to join the World's Fair Commmunity for quite some time. I chose to sign up during "The Lost Weekend" So glad I am finally on. Been collecting for 45 years (all World's Fairs), but my favorite is the 1853 NY Crystal Palace. I think I am the only one in the world. Just wrote a book "The Lost History of the New York Crystal Palace - America's First World's Fair" the first book ever written on the subject. Anyway it will be interesting to see if anyone is interested in this poor forgotten fair.

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Welcome to PTU Ed.If I`m not mistaken doesn`t Disneyworld have a small version of the Crystal palace near the entrance on Main St?

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Welcome Ed. You're right; not much is known about New York's first world's fair. I have often visited Bryant Park in mid-town Manhattan, site of the exhibition, and since it's renovation several years ago, it is a wonderful urban space. A few years back they staged musical numbers from current Broadway plays (with big-name stars) on Tuesdays at lunchtime and on Monday evenings screened classic motion pictures on a huge screen with a state-of-the-art Sony projection system. I wonder if they still offer this free entertainment?

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I wonder if they still offer this free entertainment?

Yes they do still have movies under the stars. As a matter of fact, I believe there was one tonight!

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Welcome to PTU Ed.If I`m not mistaken doesn`t Disneyworld have a small version of the Crystal palace near the entrance on Main St?

Not aware of the Disneyworld crystal palace. Is it the same shape of the NY palace (Greek cross with center dome) or another shape. They kept the same shape of the NY palace at the 39 fair in a small version would like to knowif that is the case at Disneyworld. Thanks

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Welcome Ed. You're right; not much is known about New York's first world's fair. I have often visited Bryant Park in mid-town Manhattan, site of the exhibition, and since it's renovation several years ago, it is a wonderful urban space. A few years back they staged musical numbers from current Broadway plays (with big-name stars) on Tuesdays at lunchtime and on Monday evenings screened classic motion pictures on a huge screen with a state-of-the-art Sony projection system. I wonder if they still offer this free entertainment?

Bryant Park has a long history of offering afternoon and evening entertainment to the public. Poetry readings, Jazz, fashion shows etc. They have a great ice skating rink in the winter. I included a chronology of Bryant Park in my book. If you are ever at Bryant Park envision that almost the entire area was the size of the CVrystal Palace. A massive building for its time

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Here's a view of Disney's Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.post-273-124700818829_thumb.jpg

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Here's a view of Disney's Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.post-273-124700818829_thumb.jpg

[/Thanks for posting that picture George.It at least shows my memory is still intact.

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Thanks for posting the picture of the Disneyworld Crystal Palace. Not too similar to NY but a beautiful building. What is inside?

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It's a restaurant, Ed. I can post some pictures of it as well when I get back home from my trip.

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I remember seing the Crystal Palace on the Magic Kingdom map during my one-and-only visit (so far) to Disneyworld. Unfortunately, with so much so see in too little time, I never made it there.

I also remember going to NYC in 1997 or so and attending a movie screening in Bryant Park. It was "Singing in the Rain". And to make it even more special, the movie was introduced by Stanley Donen himself!

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I was fortunate to tour the architectural firm of Cook & Fox in NYC. They designed the green friendly Bank of America building across from Bryant park. They told me that their design inspiration came from the NY Crystal Palace and in fact there were several illustrations of the Cryatal Palace on the walls of the firm. It is the second tallest building building in NYC. It is ironic that the NY Crystal Palace as an early example of cast iron architecture coupled with the elevator, first demonstrated by Otis inside the Palace (PT Barnum paid him $100), were the 2 basic items necessary for skyscraper construction.

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I take it the building on the right is the BOA? This is the first I've heard of it being the 2nd tallest.

post-3873-124716866552_thumb.jpg

As visual aids for Bryant Park,

post-3873-124716872824_thumb.jpg

Chocolate and gold American Radiator Bldg, deservedly a crowd pleaser,

post-3873-124716879338_thumb.jpg

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I take it the building on the right is the BOA? This is the first I've heard of it being the 2nd tallest.

It is if the spire is included but not if you only go by occupied floors.

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Here are some statistics I copied from Wikipedia

Rank sort_none.gifName sort_none.gifCity sort_none.gifHeight

feet / m sort_none.gifFloors sort_none.gifYear sort_none.gifNotes sort_none.gif1Sears Tower[A]Chicago, IL01.01,451 / 44210819747th-tallest building in the world. Tallest building in the United States.[1][2]2Trump International Hotel and Tower*Chicago, IL04.01,362 / 415962009Under construction- this building is topped out and stands as the 10th-tallest building in the world. Tallest concrete structure in North America [3]

3Empire State Building[A]New York, NY02.0 1,250 / 381102193114th-tallest building in the world. First building in the world to contain over 100 floors.[4][5]4Bank of America TowerNew York, NY03.01,200 / 36654200817th-tallest building in the world, second tallest in New York City.[6][7]

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It is if the spire is included but not if you only go by occupied floors.

Marc

just wanted to say how much I am enjoying The World's Fair Community. You've done a great job. I think the fairs that never got off the groung is a great idea and I have a collection of newspaper clippings about some of those fairs plus a complete proposal for the 1989 NY World's Fair. Will have to pull in info out. Are you the Marc who worked at the Queens Museum?

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Ed, some Crystal Palace images for you.

First, a view of the Walt Disney World version:

wdw-crystal-palace-1.jpg

and an interior view:

wdw-crystal-palace-2.jpg

and an angle not usually seen, as it was taken from the penthouse level of Cinderella Castle, which is closed to the public:

wdw-crystal-palace-3.jpg

There's also another version at Tokyo Disneyland (a lousy scan, need to find the film and fix it but here it is for now):

tdl-crystal-palace.jpg

There was a small tribute to it at the US Pavilion at the 1982 World's Fair:

1982-crystal-palace.jpg

Hope you like them.

Bill

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Ed, welcome.

Of the items you have collected about the 1853 Fair at NYC, have you come across any photographs or lithographs depicting the people responsible for making it happen? Also, have you checked the New York Public Library which has a special collection devoted to the Fair and Crystal Palace?

Did you know that Walt Whitman's poem, the Exposition, was inspired by the 1853 Fair?

Til then.

JMcK

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Ed, welcome.

Of the items you have collected about the 1853 Fair at NYC, have you come across any photographs or lithographs depicting the people responsible for making it happen? Also, have you checked the New York Public Library which has a special collection devoted to the Fair and Crystal Palace?

Did you know that Walt Whitman's poem, the Exposition, was inspired by the 1853 Fair?

Til then.

JMcK

JMcK

Song of the Exposition certainly had to be inspired by Whitmans visits to the Crystal Palace. He was paid to write & read it 1871 for the 40th Fair of the American Institute which was an industrial fair started in NYC in 1831. He spent many hours at the fair and befriended many policemen there. He wrote about he Crystal Palace in 1857 while he was editor of the Brooklyn Eagle . Other literary personalties who were influenced by the CP were 17 year old Mark Twain (one of his first examples of his writing is a letter to his sister describing the palace), Henry James who saw it as a boy and later wrote about it in "A Small Boy & Others", Steven Foster, Ann S. Stephens (wrote the "Old Homstead" and the first dime novel), and William Cullen Bryant who wrote an ode for the opening of the CP and who Bryant Park is named after (1884). It is ironic that the Crystal Palace burned down during the Fair of the American Institute in 1858. There is a daguerreotype of Theodore Sedwick, president of the Cp and there are lithographs of the architects Carstensen & Gildemeister. I do not know of any other photos. A grand banquent was given for Chief engineer C.E. Detmold on 9/13/1853 at the Astor Hotel. I am not aware of a special collection at the NY public library except for a collection of trade cards in the Dunwyck (? spelling) collection which was recently found after being lost for some time (I have not seen it). The New York Historical Society holds the papers of the Crystal Palace Association and is quite extensive. A lot of this is in my book. I could go on and on. Thanks for your interest

Ed

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Wow, thanks for the massive info! I remember Disney World's Crystal Palace, as I ate there last time I went!

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Just a little more "Lost History" In july of 1853 the New York Herald published "A walking tour of the outside area of the Crystal Palace". I quoted the whole article in my book because it proves that the NYCP was the first world's fair to have an amusement area. It was very extensive and included the Latting Observatory, Mt. Croton formal gardens, Views of the Universe, Model of San Francisco and Califonia, 25 cent Dagguerreotype gallery, largest crocodile ever captured, giant Camera Obscura, a dance hall that carried passengers around on a miniature RR while they ate and drank(the ride was free if they kept drinking). a "Temple of Refreshment", Circus, a wax doll exhibit that rang bells and moved their heads, the wild man of Borneo, scores of unusual animals, a Temperence tent and many other exhibits. These were located on 42nd street all the way to 43rd street, along 6th avenue from 42nd to 40th St and on 40th street between 5th & 6th.

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Dear everyone,

I am hoping that someone can help me here. I am trying to figure out if Japan participated or anything of Japan was shown at the 1853 World's Fair in New York. There is a song by Ryuichi Sakamoto, which remakes Stephen Foster's Jeanie with Light Brown Hair, making it sound like a Japanese/Okinawan song! I am wondering if perhaps Stephen Foster was exposed to Japanese music. Does anyone know if he might have been present? Thanks

--Amir

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Dear everyone,

I am hoping that someone can help me here. I am trying to figure out if Japan participated or anything of Japan was shown at the 1853 World's Fair in New York. There is a song by Ryuichi Sakamoto, which remakes Stephen Foster's Jeanie with Light Brown Hair, making it sound like a Japanese/Okinawan song! I am wondering if perhaps Stephen Foster was exposed to Japanese music. Does anyone know if he might have been present? Thanks

--Amir

Admiral Perry first steamed into Japan in 1853.Before then Japan had practiced isolationism for centuries.It is doubtful that Japan would have participated in any Western event on such short notice and with so little exposure to the west.

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True, but as someone mentioned that at the Dublin 1853 Exhibition, Japan was featured as courts, which were not represented by Japan herself. Maybe there was something like this in New York as well?

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True, but as someone mentioned that at the Dublin 1853 Exhibition, Japan was featured as courts, which were not represented by Japan herself. Maybe there was something like this in New York as well?

The Japan exhibit at the 1853 Doublin Crystal Crystal palace came from a private collection from the king of the Netherlands which had a presence in Japan from 1609 to 1857. The second year of the New York Crystal palace (1854) some of the items from Dublin were sent to NY. There are illustrations of these items in an issue of the 1854 Gleason's Pictorial. Stephen Foster was living in New York at the time and wrote that he visited the Crystal Palace, but I do not know if there is a connection

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