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The 1851 Crystal Palace: Shrine to Modernity

A celebration of peace through progress: This article can introduce students to London’s Great Exhibition of 1851 and modernity’s coming-of-age.  The Crystal Palace resembled a mighty cathedral: the great nave, more than half a kilometer in length, was intersected by a transept where the immense barrel-vaulted glass roof dwarfed the elm trees enclosed by it. When the Pyramids of Egypt crumble to dust, people will still remember the Great Exhibition. That was one of the least hyperbolic predictions floating around the British press in the sum­mer of 1851.

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