Of all of the slideshow assignments I've received from the Condé Nast Traveler to date, so far this has been my favorite to research and write. It's inspired a new travel goal: to visit as many World's Fair sites as possible.
The Crystal Palace
1851 Great Exhibition; London, England
Though it's the only building on this list that's no longer around, Hyde Park's Crystal Palace—constructed for the 1851 Great Exhibition out of nearly a million square feet of glass—is important because of the impression it made and the impact it had on the architecture of subsequent World's Fairs. The 1853 New York Crystal Palace in New York City; the 1876 Horticultural Hall in Philadelphia; the 1879 Garden Palace in Sydney; and the still-standing 1900 Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées in Paris all took design cues from London's giant iron-and-glass exhibition hall. After the Exhibition closed, the Crystal Palace moved from Hyde Park to Sydenham, where it became an educational center and amusement park, with fountains and water towers, statues, and fair-like events, including car races and ballooning. The palace was plagued by financial problems, but it was ultimately destroyed by a giant blaze in 1936. At the Crystal Palace Park today, you can still see some of the ruins, including cast-iron dinosaurs that were once part of a natural history exhibit.
Click through to see the rest of the slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.
Photo Courtesy of the Crystal Palace Foundation