The inauguration ceremony took place on 15 May 1855.
The palace was built entirely of stone and iron, and consisted of a central building with six flanking sections.
It measured, excluding the walls, 254 metres long and 110 metres wide; this gave a surface area of 28,085 square metres, which, together with the other pavilions flanking it, gave a grand total of 31,939 square metres of buildings in one piece, covering 3 hectares 19 ares 3 centiares, making a total surface area of 50,011 square metres for the palace itself.
The palace consisted of a large central hall 192 metres long and 48 metres wide, with an area of 9,216 square metres. It was subdivided into twenty-three bays spaced 8 metres apart.
This beautiful hall had no first floor; it received its light directly from the huge glass roof which formed the dome of the palace and was supported by enormous fittings. This magnificent crystal roof was 34.80m high.
The side galleries that surrounded the great hall were 14 metres wide and 16 metres high.
These galleries, dominated by the ceiling of the first floor, were lit on the one hand by the vast arches giving onto the main hall, and on the other by 208 windows opening onto the Champs-Elysées, joined to large openings to favour the entry of daylight into the less well situated parts of this compartment.
The length of these galleries was about 620 metres; they were subdivided by columns which carried the first floor and were spaced at 12 metres.
The gallery on the first floor was 19 metres high. This beautiful gallery, which was as long as the entire hall and 24 metres wide, had a surface area of 18,072 metres. It was lit by 318 windows.
It was served by twelve large staircases placed in six pavilions that flanked the perimeter of the palace. 288 cast-iron columns, 9 metres high, supported this ensemble on the ground floor. The number of columns was halved on the first floor.
The six pavilions had 72 windows. They were divided as follows:
North pavilion; or administration building, containing the reception rooms, the emperor's and empress's salons, the director's quarters, the offices, the cloakroom, etc.
The main entrance was through this pavilion.
A doorway 15 metres in diameter and 20 metres high, doubled in depth, with large columns on 6-metre pedestals, opened onto the main avenue of the Champs-Elysées.
It was surmounted by a group representing France crowning Industry and Commerce. Two groups of children, on the right and left, supported cartouches decorated with the arms and figures of the emperor.
Below the group was a bas-relief representing Industry and Arts offering their products to the genius of the Exhibition.
Two figures adorned the tympanums, and under the porch was carved yet another industrial allegory.
All around the palace were engraved the names and arms of the principal cities with the names of famous men in industry.
The other pavilions, four in number, were placed at the ends of the side galleries. They contained the exits and clearances.
Finally, the southern pavilion, located in the centre, contained the exits necessary to get to the annexes.
These annexes, of which there were three: the Quai de Billy gallery, the perimeter and Panorama, and the grounds covered with hangars, will be described elsewhere. It will suffice for us to present the following table:
The Palace of Industry itself was smaller than the one in Hyde Park, which measured 74,318 square metres, instead of 50,011 square metres; but if we include all the annexes and the Palace of Fine Arts, we end up with 21,000 metres more than in London.
© Guide to the Palais de l'Industrie et des Beaux-Arts 1855