London area of Crystal Palace guide
What to do and where to stay in London's Crystal Palace neighbourhood
Named after the vast iron and glass hall that housed the Great Exhibition of 1851, Crystal Palace is a leafy area of south London which once was a part of the Great North Wood, a popular area for Londoners until it began to be built over in the 19th century. Local legend has it that Sir Francis Drake's ship, the Golden Hind, had its timbers cut from trees in this area. Crystal Palace used to be a notorious gypsy haunt, which explains the names of Gipsy Hill and local landmark Gipsy Tower, an eccentric private conversion and all that's left from an 18th century church which burnt down leaving just the 40-metre high tower. At 109 metres above sea level, Sydenham Hill is one of the highest locations in London and affords superb views back over the capital. There are also two television transmitter masts in the area which stand out on the horizon from many parts of London. The "Crystal Palace Triangle", formed by Westow Street, Westow Hill and Church Road, has a large number of restaurants and independent shops, as well as an indoor second hand market. The area retains much of its impressive Victorian architecture despite the arrival of many new-builds. The 200-acre Crystal Palace Park is home to the restored Dinosaur Park, the world's first ever theme park, and the National Sports Centre. The famous scene in The Italian Job where Michael Caine says "You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!" takes part on the Centre's athletics track.