Thomas Edison National Historical Park: Laboratory Complex

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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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