Friday, May 30, 2014

Two interesting paragraphs....................

    "So the risks were considerable and keenly felt, yet after only a few days of fretful hesitation the commissioners approved Paxton's plan.  Nothing - really, absolutely nothing - says more about Victorian Britain and its capacity for brilliance than that the century's most daring and iconic building was entrusted to a gardener.  Paxton's Crystal Palace required no bricks at all - indeed, no mortar, no cement, no foundations.  It was just bolted together and sat on the ground like a tent.  This was not merely an ingenious solution to a monumental challenge but also a radical departure from anything that had ever been tried before."


     "Allied with this was the timely abolition of two long-standing taxes:  the window tax and the glass tax (which, strictly speaking, was an excise duty).  The window tax dated from 1696 and was sufficiently punishing that people really did avoid putting windows in buildings where they could.  The bricked-up window openings that are such a feature of many period buildings in Britain today were once usually painted to look like windows.  (It is sometimes rather a shame that they aren't still.)  The tax, sorely resented as 'a tax on air and light,' meant that many servants and others of constrained means were condemned to live in airless rooms."

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