The Mid-Victorian Period (1848-70)

Economic Prosperity
When we speak of Victorian complacency or stability or optimism, we are usually referring to this mid-Victorian phase--"The Age of Improvement," as the historian Asa Briggs has called it.  "Of all the decades in our history," writes G. M. Young, "a wise man could choose the eighteen-fifties to be young in." 
In 1851 Prince Albert opened the Great Exhibition (right) in Hyde Park, where a gigantic glass greenhouse, the Crytal Palace, had been erected to display the exhibits of modern industry and science.  The Crystal Palace was one of the first buildings constructed according to modern architectural principles in which materials such as glass and iron are employed for purely functional ends (much late Victorian furniture, on the other hand, with its fantastic and irrelevant ornamentation, was constructed according to the opposite principle).
The building itself, as well as the exhibits, symbolized the triumphants feats of Victorian technology. 

Pride in technological progress, however, is only one element of the mid-Victorian period.  Equally significant is the conflict between religion and sciencee.g. Tennyson's "In Memoriam."

The caption reads: Odds and Ends, in, out, & about, The Great Exhibition of 1851.  (Bentley 105)
  (Norton Anthology pp. 895-896)
The Norton Anthology of English Literature.  6th ed.  Vol 2.  M.H. Abrams, General Ed.  New York: Norton, 1993.
pictures: Bentley, Phyllis.  The BrontesLondon: Thames and Hudson, 1969.