May 1, 1851, was the most exciting day in London, ever. It marked the launch of the “Great Exhibition” in the brand-new Crystal Palace—13,000 exhibits under one glass roof.
From May to October, six million visitors attended this head-spinning mega-show of technological and design wares from around the world, all housed in a massive hall created from the shockingly modern material of glass. Queen Victoria presided over the opening with Prince Albert, writing in her diary that it was “one of the greatest and most glorious days of our lives.”
Views of the Crystal Palace from the Getty collections by John Jabez Edwin Mayall, Philip Henry Delamotte, Negretti and Zambra, Joseph Nash, and the Dickinson Brothers