Thomas Edison National Historical Park: Glenmont

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On my previous visit to Thomas Edison National Historical Park, it was Edison Day and Glenmont was closed to allow all rangers to be on hand at the Laboratory Complex downtown. So I returned a few months later, hoping to see the rest of the park.

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Glenmont was Edison’s mansion, about a mile away from the labs and factories in West Orange.  It is on 13 acres on a hill in Llewellyn Park, which was America’s first planned residential community.

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To take a tour of the house, you must go to the Visitor Center on Main Street and get a ticket. Best to get there early as tickets often sell out by noon.  You cannot visit Glenmont, which is in a gated community, without a ticket and a pass for your car.

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The Visitor Center in West Orange

Edison bought Glenmont for his new bride Mina as a wedding gift. It was a bargain because the original owner, who was a clerk for a dried goods company,  built the estate with $250k in embezzled funds. Edison paid $125k for the house, outbuildings, furnishings for 29 rooms and 13 landscaped acres.

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Mina’s ‘Potting Shed’…she was involved in gardening projects in the community.

Photography is not allowed inside the mansion. The Park Service has kept the home as it was in Edison’s time, with most of his original belongings and furnishings displayed inside. The ranger who led our tour sternly cautioned us not to straggle behind or touch any of the valuable artifacts.

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Having previously toured the Laboratory Complex, I wondered if Thomas Edison had spent much time in this home. He was a genius and an insomniac prone to working on inventions through the night and sleeping for an hour here and there on a cot in his lab. But when we went upstairs, the ranger pointed out the family room where Edison enjoyed playing checkers and other games with his children.

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Upstairs was the noisy family room where the children could be as loud as they wanted (Edison was partially deaf.) Downstairs were the fancier rooms for entertaining guests. Mina Edison loved the conservatory with its windows and she loved to watch the birds.

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Thomas Edison put the house into Mina’s name to separate it from the Edison Company… in case something went wrong with the company they wouldn’t lose their home. Mina sold the house back to the Edison company for one dollar in 1947 with the stipulation that she be allowed to live there until her death and that the house become a museum afterwards.

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Mina and Thomas Edison are buried in graves in the back yard.

Edison NHP Posts:

Location: Llewelyn Park, West Orange, NJ 07052

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designation declared: 3/30/2009

Date of my visit: 8/18/2018

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The garage which houses several antique cars

Paterson Great Falls: Waterfall Wednesday

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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On a sunny day, you can often find a rainbow over the rear section of Paterson Great Falls National Park.

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I was visiting the park for the Native American Heritage celebration and walked over the bridge to this section. We’d had a downpour the night before so there was a lot of water cascading and creating mist. The mist acts as a prism and creates the rainbow.

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Scroll down for a video clip.

Paterson Great Falls posts:

Location: 72 McBride Avenue Extension, Paterson, NJ

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designated or established: 11/7/2011

Date of my visit: 11/4/2018

 

Paterson Great Falls: Overlook Park

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When I visited Paterson Great Falls for the Native American Heritage celebration, it was held in the brand-new Overlook Park. The Overlook’s main feature is an amphitheater facing the falls. The last time I’d been there, the area had been crumbling into the river with a chain link fence keeping people away from the edge (we’d had to find an opening to poke our lenses through to get a shot.)

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Besides the amphitheater,  a new stairway connecting the Overlook section with Mary Ellen Kramer Park was added. Previously, we’d had to exit the park, walk around the block and renter to cross the bridge to the far side of the falls. Much-needed improvements were also made to the parking area. Parking is still limited when there is an event happening…there were a few cars waiting for me to leave so they could pounce on my spot in the afternoon.

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Funds for the $2.8 million renovation came from New Jersey’s Green Acres fund, the NPS centennial grant, the county’s Open Space fund, the City of Paterson and Rutgers University.  The park has big plans for future improvements, including a Great Lawn on the Allied Textile Printing site and a fancy new visitor center which they are hoping to build in time for Great Fall’s 10th anniversary in 2021.

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Scroll down for a video clip of the falls taken from Overlook Park.

Paterson Great Falls posts:

Location: 72 McBride Avenue Extension, Paterson, NJ

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designated or established: 11/7/2011

Date of my visit: 11/4/2018

 

Paterson Great Falls Native Heritage Celebration

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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In November, we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the USA…a time to gather with family and give thanks for all of our blessings. But it is also an observance of the first Thanksgiving, when the Native Americans and Pilgrims feasted together after the Native Americans helped the new settlers survive their first difficult year.

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For Native American Heritage Month, Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park hosted a celebration, with performances by the Silver Cloud Dancers and a tour of the Lenape exhibit at the Paterson Museum. You can see my earlier post on Paterson Great Falls by clicking here.

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The Lenape Nation, called Lenapehoking, included Paterson (and all of New Jersey, parts of New York, PA and Delaware), but the Lenape did not live around the falls. They did fish here in the Passaic River.

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The Silver Cloud Dancers are an inter-tribal group, with singers, drummers and dancers. They performed both traditional and contemporary dances, while providing insight into the history of the pieces.

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I attended the morning show and the timing was just right for the sun to create a rainbow in the mist under the bridge, serving as a spectacular backdrop.

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The dancers performed a traditional men’s dance, traditional women’s dance and then the more contemporary, ‘fancier’ versions of each.

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One of the vocalists led a singalong, teaching us the words to a simple song.

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Here is a short video of the traditional men’s dance. This is a warrior’s victory dance.

Location: 72 McBride Avenue Extension, Paterson, NJ

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designated or established: 11/7/2011

Date of my visit: 11/4/2018

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Independence NHP: Congress Hall

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.
In 1790, Philadelphia was chosen as the temporary capital of the newly formed United States. The recently constructed Philadelphia Courthouse was loaned to the Federal Government as a meeting place for the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Our ranger first took us into the large courtroom on the first floor which was used by the House of Representatives.  The furniture here is not original as the desks were auctioned off once the capital moved to DC. The NPS reacquired some of the originals, but they are in the upstairs rooms. So we were able to sit at these authentic looking desks with ink wells while the ranger talked.
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Next we went upstairs to see the room used by the Senate as well as some other smaller committee rooms where large paintings of France’s King Louis 16th and Marie Antoinette adorn the walls. These were gifts from France after the American Revolution ended.
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In 1800, Washington, DC became the US capital and Congress Hall reverted to serving as the Philadelphia courthouse.

Location: 6th & Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia, PA

Designation: National Historical Park

Date NPS designation declared: 1951

Date of my visit: August 2017

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Independence NHP: Independence Hall

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link. And to my American followers, be sure to show up at the polls tomorrow and vote!

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We started our day at the Independence Visitor Center to pick up our tickets for the Independence Hall tour. The rangers were very helpful and gave directions to various sites and even got us on an earlier tour than the one we’d reserved. (Be sure to use the restrooms here because there are none in the historic buildings once you go through security.)

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Independence Hall was built in 1732 to be the Pennsylvania State House. It is the birthplace of the USA, where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated and signed.

You can reserve a guided tour of Independence Hall on the NPS website for a nominal fee (it cost me $7.50 for the 5 of us.) Tickets are free on the day of, but tours do book up quickly. Getting tickets for the tour is the only way to see the inside of the building where the Declaration of Independence was signed. The tour is pretty brief, but interesting and it is inspiring to stand in the place where our founding fathers formed our nation. The tour is limited to the first floor rooms most of the year, but may include the second floor in early winter months.

IMG_9652Our ranger first took us into the Courtroom of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It was here in 1776 that the Patriots stormed in and tore down the King’s coat of arms in an act of defiance.

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Next we went to the Assembly Room.  This is the room where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed. It later became a shrine to the founding of America, housing the Liberty Bell. After his assassination, Lincoln’s body was laid out here before burial.  Now it has since been restored to its 1776 appearance.

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Afterwards, be sure to wait on the line for the tour at the congressional building next door…there are no reservations for that one and it is much more extensive than the one in Independence Hall. I will cover that in a future post. Both tours really drove home the awe and respect we should all have for what these men accomplished in 1776.

Location: Chestnut Street, between 5th and 6th Streets, Philadelphia, PA

Designation: National Historical Park

Date NPS designation declared: 1951

Date of my visit: August 2017

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Thomas Edison National Historical Park: Laboratory Complex

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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The Thomas Edison National Historical Park preserves the home and laboratories of the prolific inventor. The mansion in Llewellyn Park and the laboratory in West Orange were two separate NPS sites in the 1950s. They were combined into one park, restored and re-opened in 2009.

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I arrived at the visitor center on Edison Day! The good thing about visiting on Edison Day was that there were rangers and docents in every room of the laboratory buildings giving tours or demonstrations. The not-so-good: no tours of the nearby mansion because all rangers were needed in the lab complex.

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Over one thousand inventions came out of Edison’s New Jersey laboratories, including the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, batteries and motion picture cameras. It was the invention of the stock market ticker that made Edison wealthy and provided him the means to open his laboratories. Science!

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Location: 211 Main St, West Orange, NJ 07052

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designation declared: 3/30/2009

Date of my visit: 6/02/2018

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A movie camera in Edison’s library/office
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The machine shop on the 1st floor of the laboratory
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A mold created in the machine shop for phonograph records. This was put into use at the factories in the complex.
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Edison forever changed the world with the invention of the electric light bulb in his Menlo Park lab in 1879.
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Edison’s three-story library and office in the laboratory building
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Edison actually preferred working in this less fancy office/lab to his ornate library
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Batteries?
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The tape-recorder’s predecessor…this machine stored voice recordings on wax cylinders.
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A recording studio on the third floor.
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This is the chem lab in a smaller building next to the main lab building. A fire started in a lab like this in 1914 and burned down 13 factory buildings.
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The Black Maria is on the left of this photo. This building was designed for recording motion pictures.

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