The area is one of the highest in the London area and for centuries was occupied by the Great North Wood, an extensive area of natural oak forest which formed a wilderness close to the southern edge of the ever expanding city of London. Local legend has it that Sir Francis Drake's ship, The Golden Hind, had its timbers cut from trees in this area. The forest was a popular area for Londoners' recreation right up to the nineteenth century when it began to be built over. It was also a haunt of Gypsies with many local street names and pubs recording the link. The area still retains large amounts of woodland for an urban situation.
You can get to Crystal Palace by rail via Crystal Palace railway station where you can get trains to and from Victoria and London Bridge railway stations. There are also plentiful local bus routes. The disconnection from the capital's tube network has led to it having lower house prices than other areas possessing scenic views of London.
The Crystal Palace was reconstructed here in 1852 - 1854 following its success at the great exhibition in Hyde Park. It was destroyed in a spectacular fire in 1936. Its extensive grounds now house the National Sports Centre. A long fought over local issue is whether to build on the site of the original palace or leave it as an open space.