November 30, 2015 1:00 PM EST
History Today

This post is in partnership with History Today. The article below was originally published at HistoryToday.com.

Opened by Queen Victoria for the Great Exhibition of 1851, the Crystal Palace, a vast steel-and-glass structure designed by Joseph Paxton, was originally sited in Hyde Park. When the Exhibition ended, the Palace was bought up by a private company, dismantled and moved to Sydenham, south-east London, where it was re-built as the centerpiece of an expansive new garden, complete with (inaccurate) models of dinosaurs. Despite these attractions the ‘Acropolis of Empire’ was not a financial success, despite a dedicated railway line from central London ferrying visitors to it, and was eventually purchased by the government in 1909.

On November 30th 1936, a fire began in the cloakroom. The flames spread quickly, aided by strong winds and the timber flooring used throughout, and the entire building was soon destroyed.

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