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A visit to Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Well, did you know that the modern life as we know it began in West Orange, New Jersey, not 4 miles from our House? Well, it did, because that's where Thomas Edison had his laboratory and factory complex were and are located. Anything and everything that we probably take for granted today was invented and made there. Coffee maker anyone? Oh, yeah.

For some reason, I kept thinking that all of that was somehow connected to Edison, New Jersey, and couldn't possibly be this close. But, then it occurred to me: at the turn of the 20th century, Newark was the center of the world, minus the stock market. Everything happened there. Industry, manufacturing, trade, arts, you name it.

Back to Thomas Edison. My visit began with the Laboratory Complex. I thought it would be just one of those placating visits, where I rush through the rooms, and move on to the more interesting subject of his home. Well, I thought wrong.

I am not sure how many of you actually know this, but in my heart of hearts, I am a huge geek. I want to know everything and am so proud of myself when I acquire a skill of, let's say, furniture refinishing, or website design. When I entered the lab, I wasn't sure what to expect. I've seen plenty of those, my mom being a lab technician. But, I wasn't prepared for this.

The above is Edison's library at the laboratory building. It has 4 floors of every imaginable book on nature and science published in any imaginable language until the day he died. All the woodwork is white pine. Clearly, designed to impress anyone who walked in. I know I was breathless.

But, then I walked the rest of it. I also made use of the free audio tour. This was posted on the entrance of the work area and several other places throughout the complex:

Genius! The gold mines, of course, was the Music Room and the Photography Lab.

The entire building was still buzzing from the energy, probably imagined by yours truly, but energy nonetheless. I know that I couldn't imagine my life without many of the things that were created here: light bulbs, movies, photographs, elevator, waffle maker, all things that sometimes make us think: how does this work? To step back into history and see where they were created was truly a humbling moment. I hope to come back, again and again and draw inspiration.

Needless to say, I never made it to the house, the Glenmont Estate. Hopefully, it won't wait until next holiday season.


  1. I have lived in New Jersey for 12 years and finally made it there in March. Oh. my. I wish I could have gotten my hands on the books in that library!

  2. Hi Robin - isn't it amazing? According to the curator, those books were published all over the world in every imaginable language, and if they had anything to do with science, Mr. Edison had to have them. Truly amazing. Wish more people nowadays were pursuing knowledge like that.


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