The Historical Edison Labs-or-How I Spent My Summer Vacation

So you want to be an inventor! Thomas Edison believed that you should have had a better chance at it. He wanted public schools to add inventing as a class subject, right alongside reading, writing, and arithmetic. Imagine what the world might be like now if he had gotten his wish.

Edison singlehandedly changed the world as much as anyone who ever lived, so it’s no surprise that the laboratories, homes and haunts of Edison’s earthly days have become attractive destinations for science-minded site seers. There are multiple locations around the US just brimming with palpable Edison experiences. You can find Edison labs, homes and World’s Fair history in places as diverse as West Orange, New Jersey; Chicago, Illinois; and Fort Myers, Florida.

This Reactions video is a great introduction to how Thomas Edison “invented the 20th century”:

Henry Ford StatueAside from his genius for science, there was an interesting personal side to Edison as well. Did you know that he was a good friend of Henry Ford? Not only did Ford bring his first commercial car design to Edison for consultation, but the two soon became fast friends. The historical property of interest in Fort Myers, Florida is the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, where the two men enjoyed holidays and winter months in adjacent homes.

Edison’s Winter Estate boasted one of the world’s finest botanical laboratories, and today is home of North America’s largest banyan tree, which Edison planted just outside his laboratory doors in 1925. This arboreal amazement is a single tree, with hundreds of trunks, which covers an entire acre of the estate.

If you can’t make it to any Edison historical sites this summer, you can simply admire his work by pondering the many ways the great man improved your own daily life. Edison invented the light bulb, which is fundamental to the newer technology that powers your television. He created the first means of recording sound, which led us to your voice mail and your iTunes account. He recorded some of the first motion pictures (see “Record of a Sneeze”), so he’s had his part in your favorite blockbuster movies as well. And let’s not forget how much he improved the battery. Without his fundamental research, we may not even have wireless devices at all.

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