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1851

First-ever “Great Exhibition” opens in London

On May 1, 1851, the Great Exhibition opens to wide acclaim in the Crystal Palace in London. Inside the Crystal Palace, a giant glass-and-iron hall designed by Sir Joseph Paxton, more than 10,000 exhibitors set up eight miles of tables. Technological wonders from around the world were on display, but the exposition was clearly dominated by Britain, the premier industrialized nation and workshop of the world. Conceived by Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, the Great Exposition was a rousing success, hosting 6 million visitors before it closed in October. The many goods displayed ranged from kitchen appliances to false teeth, silks to farm machinery.

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