Crystal Palace

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The Crystal Palace was a pavilion built in 1875 by the city of Birmingham on the eastern edge of Nabers' Grove in Southside. The building was sited on 17th Street near Avenue D.

The wood-roofed open-sided structure was about twenty-five feet long and 100 feet wide with a 10-foot wide raised platform at one end used as a speaker's stand and bandstand. Benches were provided around the perimeter. It was named for the famous exposition building commissioned by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria for the 1851 Exposition in London. Unlike that famed structure, Birmingham's Crystal Palace was not built of iron and glass, and it is likely that the hyberbole was enjoyed for its humor at the time.

The building hosted numerous political rallies, picnics, barbecues, skating rallies, dances and band concerts. Many programs were scheduled for Sunday afternoons. One of the early regular attractions was the band led by W. P. Brewer. The Crystal Palace was the first place in Birmingham where soda water was served, which increased the attraction. Notable speakers on the Crystal Palace's stage included U. S. Senators James L. Pugh and John Tyler Morgan and Governors Robert Patton and Thomas Watts. James Powell held a rousing rally there during the 1878 Birmingham mayoral election, which he lost to Thomas Jeffers.

Before construction of the Highland Avenue & Belt Railroad in 1885, journeys to Nabers' Grove by horse and buggy took about twenty minutes from downtown. Although the new streetcar line provided easier access, it also carried more passengers to the newer, larger resort at Lakeview Park. The disused structure was torn down in 1886.

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