We recently had the chance to check out this nearby national treasure. Just 30 minutes from mid-town Manhattan, this is where Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) spent 40 years or so inventing, experimenting and perfecting much of modern life. Our own Willy Wonka with his large staff of Oompa Loompa scientists and craftsmen worked in sound recording, Movie production, electric car batteries and anything else he thought up. You’ve heard about the light bulb, but he also created his own Portland cement which was used to build old Yankee Stadium. He tried to develop a domestic rubber plant alternative which meant testing more than 17,000 plants for the quality and quantity of rubber they produced. Turns out goldenrod was the winner after he cultivated it to be more than 10 feet tall!
The Park is actually his factory research and manufacturing buildings, plus the Black Maria Film Studio. There are huge rooms filled with stuff left behind when they finally closed shop. The machine shop room has been restored with leather belts and pulleys powering just about anything.
Be sure to check out the website where they have sample recordings from the Talking Doll. Even Edison had to admit the quality was a little lacking…“The voices of the little monsters were exceedingly unpleasant to hear.”
Thomas Edison National Historical Park: http://www.nps.gov/edis/index.htm