Sunday, June 6, 2010

Local History Lessons

We spent several hours exploring the nearby Thomas Edison National Historical Park today. While I knew Thomas Edison (1847-1931) spent a large portion of his life right here in New Jersey, I never visited his laboratories or estate until today. Both his laboratories and his estate have been kept in near the exact same condition they were when fully functional, including the furniture and decorations in his home as well as all kinds of machinery, equipment, materials and chemicals in his labs.

Thomas Edison is one of America's most impressive inventors and is most famous for inventing the light bulb, the phonograph, and the motion picture camera. These three inventions are incredibly impressive and have had a tremendous impact on the industrialization of the world. In addition, Thomas Edison was a scientist and business man. He researched, experimented, manufactured and sold many inventions. He was just as much a businessman and entrepreneur as he was an inventor. He lead such a productive, accomplished life.

I enjoyed learning more about history that was made in my local area, but I also had a lot of fun simply taking photos of Edison's laboratories, factories, and home. I took 145 photos but these are my favorites. Not all of them are an enlightening representation of all the ingenuity that went on at Edison's laboratories, but they're photos that pleased me for some reason or another.

I love the look of these old bottles on the shelves.

Of course I had to photograph the bookshelves!

After the chemistry laboratory, we went into the factory where Edison's inventions were manufactured and mass produced.

In addition to the factory areas where production took place, the factory also housed a music room, drafting rooms, photography rooms, stock rooms, and even a library.

The library was at one end of the factory and went up three stories. The woodwork was stunning, as were the number of books. He thought of everything. Even a cot within an alcove of books. Looks like a perfect spot for a nap, doesn't it?

Displays of various phonographs

The Ediphone.

More glass bottles, neatly arranged and a beautiful old desk.

Buckets of sand for extinguishing fires in the machine shops.

Various signs posted throughout the machine shops:

A chart of decimal equivalents.

Air raid instructions.

A calendar from January 1919.

The world's first talking doll was invented by Thomas Edison in 1890 with a miniature phonograph inside it.

A desk in the photography room.

Thomas Edison's Estate called Glenmont. There was a stage set on the lawn in front, I believe for a special event held there just yesterday for Thomas Edison Day.

I am very grateful Edison invented the lightbulb... but I'm also pretty darned grateful for whomever it was who invented the automatic washing machine! These sinks are in the laundry room of the estate. I imagine one is for scrubbing the clothes, one is for soaking and one is for rinsing? I'd be doing laundry all day long!

I couldn't resist taking a photo of the simple roses outside the home.

What are some historical landmarks near you?


  1. How fascinating! I love the pictures - they make me want to come visit :)

  2. Oh wow, how lucky you are! And I completely agree, those antique bottles on the shelves look really pretty.

    How many hours did you spend there?

    I am the kind of museum visitor who reads every single word in every single plaque or notice in every single room... so I would probably still be there!

  3. It's been over 20 years, so I hope I'm remembering this right. Hubby & I were on vacation in Florida & we toured Henry Ford's Florida estate which included a small workshop Edison frequently used. As I recall the two were friends and Ford often invested in Edison's work. We should go see his New Jersey home someday. Nice pictures & I agree, the antique bottles are neat.

  4. Oh, wow! How cool! I wish my kids could see that. We have Biltmore Estate, the home of Carl Sandburg, and Chimney Rock, Lake Lure and Maggie Valley. Oh, and the Walnut Creek Plantation and Cowpens Battlefield.
    Then there's Charelston, SC, but it's 4-5 hours away.

    I hope you're having a great start to your week!

  5. Oh Christine, this brought back memories of my high school days. We actually took a class school trip and visited Thomas Edison National Park, it's also quite close to me.

    Historical landmarks close to me? Lots of them... but the one that immediately comes to mind is Ellis Island, it's an amazing place to visit with incredible history.

  6. Fascinating. Love the bottles. We had some here - old bottles used by chemists. I hate to think what was in them!

    Historical things round here...still a young country, but I love the Auckland War Memorial Museum. It's beautiful (architecture) and has so many fascinating things inside.

  7. Wow, pretty interesting... I'm not into much historical landmarks or museums...

  8. I want that library! Here in Seatown we don't have anything super old. We have a few old mansions and the Pioneer Square neighborhood (including the Seattle Underground), which was mostly built after the great Seattle fire in 1889. I bet there are native historic landmarks around, but I haven't visited them. One of the nice things about visiting the East Coast is seeing the history!

  9. Thank you all for taking the time to read my post and look at all my photos. :)

    Sorry it took me so long to respond, too. These last few weeks of school for the girls always sends me in a tailspin and I'm forever wishing the days had a few more hours!

    Lori: Come visit!!

    azteclady: We spent maybe a total of 3-4 hours between the labs and the estate. You can only go inside Edison's house on a tour. So they bring you in, explain everything as they take you through the house and out the back door you go! LOL!

    Phyl: What you are recalling sounds exactly right because the tour guide at Edison's house invited us into the house saying that maybe you were a friend of Edison's like Henry Ford and drove your model T right up to the door where the Butler would invite you in... and then the tour guide invited us in! Good memory. If you ever decide to take the drive up, you have to let me know! :)

    Brandy: You have a lot of great local historic places to visit, too!

    Hilcia: That's so neat that you've been here, too, although I'm not surprised since the location of this park makes a triangle with our respective towns. I understand that it has been recently renovated and improved, so maybe you need to visit it again!

    And I agree that Ellis Island is one of our most treasured local historical sites. I should visit there again now that I'm more into photography.

    orannia: I didn't realize NZ's historical timeline was so similar to the US. Well, if you consider the year it is estimated to have been reached by Europeans (1642) and then having established freedom from England--although much later than the US. I learned something new today!

    nath: LOL! I love your honesty! ^_^

    Ciara: That's good to know because I'll actually be in your city this summer as a tourist! :D


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