Crystal Palace at Reservoir Square
On today's map you wouldn't have a clue as to where the Crystal Palace at Reservoir Square was located. Looking at a William Perris' fire insurance map from 1853 however reveals that, where now stands our magnificent central library on the corner of 5th Avenue & 42nd Street, once stood the huge Croton distributing reservoir, gravity feeding the thirsty city from near the top of Murray Hill and a spectacular Crystal Palace, seen here as the large purple shape on the top left.
You can see both the reservoir and the Crystal Palace here.
An even closer look reveals a handwritten note reading "50,000". This is a fire insurance map which probably means that the fire insurance policy taken out for the Crystal Palace was $50,000 or about $1.5 million in today's dollars.
That seems like a shockingly low price for such a spectacular building.
Especially considering the fact that in 1858 it burned to the ground.
The story goes that the morning after the fire, in typical New York City fashion, street hawkers were selling still warm pieces of the melted Crystal Palace.