Category Archives: USA Travel

Waiting to Invent: Thomas Edison in Florida

This photo at Seminole Lodge is titled "Waiting for another invention" – T. Edison (on ground), H. Firestone (left) & Pres. W. G. Harding 1921 in Florida
This photo at Seminole Lodge is titled “Waiting for another invention” – T. Edison (on ground), H. Firestone (left) & Pres. W. G. Harding 1921 in Florida

Much is written in the media today concerning the inability to disconnect while on vacation – professionals glued to email and cell phones around the pool. Yet that’s hardly unique to the 21st century. In 1885 when Thomas Edison purchased 14 acres along the Caloosahatchee River as a winter retreat in the remote southwestern Florida farming hamlet of Fort Myers he had no intention of turning his mind off.

The guest house of Seminole Lodge, Fort Myers, FL
The guest house of Seminole Lodge, Fort Myers, FL
Edison's office in the Moonlight Garden
Edison’s office in the Moonlight Garden

Although Thomas (1847-1931) Mina (1865-1947) and their children spent most winters at their Seminole Lodge estate, his office provides ample evidence he was still connected by correspondence to his invention laboratory at Menlo Park, NJ. Along with good friends Harvey Firestone and Henry Ford the Edison Botanical Research Corporation was established and a laboratory constructed on the estate in the 1920s. The goal was to make America independent of foreign rubber.

Edison Botanical Research Corporation laboratory at Seminole Lodge
Edison Botanical Research Corporation laboratory at Seminole Lodge

Edison dubbed Seminole Lodge his jungle. He and Mina surrounded their home with lush gardens. But first, they had to construct the houses.

Seminole Lodge
Seminole Lodge
Entrance & pilings remain of the 1,500' pier at Seminole Lodge
Entrance & pilings remain of the 1,500′ pier at Seminole Lodge

The railroad was not extended to Fort Myers until 1904, which meant convenient travel was by ship. A 1,500 foot pier was built as a landing for family, guests and the materials necessary for Seminole Lodge. Prefab houses were also not new to the 21st century. The lumber for the two identical mirror-image houses that are Seminole Lodge was fabricated in Maine, shipped to Fort Myers and assembled on site.

Seminole Lodge, Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Ft. Myers, FL
Seminole Lodge, Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Ft. Myers, FL
Dining room at Seminole Lodge
Dining room at Seminole Lodge

The adjacent second house was originally the winter home of business partner Ezra Gulliland, but was bought back by Edison after a serious split with Gulliland. The spacious, airy wood structures were connected with a pergola and the second house turned into combination guest quarters, dining room and kitchen for Seminole Lodge. Both houses were electrified, of course, with power from both generators and batteries – all the product of Edison’s fertile mind.

Henry Ford house, Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Ft. Myers, FL
Henry Ford house, Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Ft. Myers, FL
Ford Model T, Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Ft. Myers, FL
Ford Model T, Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Ft. Myers, FL

Children of America’s great industrial age, Thomas and Mina were friends with other magnates of the day, especially Henry Ford. A frequent guest of the Edisons at Seminole Lodge, Ford purchased the beautiful yet modest Craftsman house in 1916 adjacent to Seminole Lodge. Although the Fords only used the home for two weeks each winter to celebrate Edison’s birthday, their friendship and business partnerships were life-long.

(clockwise left) motion picture projectors, water powered cylinder phonograph c.1890, early record players, electric industrial tractor c.1917, Edison Manufacturing Co. electric fan c. 1900
(clockwise left) motion picture projectors, water powered cylinder phonograph c.1890, early record players, electric industrial tractor c.1917, Edison Manufacturing Co. electric fan c. 1900

After Thomas Edison’s death at age 84 in 1931 Mina continued to winter at Seminole Lodge. Mina was Edison’s second wife having been widowed in the early 1880s when only in his 30s. The daughter of an inventor, university educated and an employee at the Menlo Park lab, Mina was as much an intellectual equal to her husband as a wife.

Fountain of natural coral at Seminole Lodge
Fountain of natural coral at Seminole Lodge
At Seminole Lodge: the 1st private swimming pool built in S.W. Florida, 1911. The above ground pool constructed of Portland cement – Edison held the patent
At Seminole Lodge: the 1st private swimming pool built in S.W. Florida, 1911. The above ground pool constructed of Portland cement – Edison held the patent

Mina was active managing their households, the botanical gardens and the Edison business ventures. Edison was said to greatly appreciate Mina’s intellect and input in discussing his many theories for everything from the phonograph, electric batteries to motion picture cameras. In 1947 Mina deeded the estate to the City of Fort Myers on condition that it be preserved as a public memorial to her husband’s genius.

Edison's "jungle" at Seminole Lodge
Edison’s “jungle” at Seminole Lodge

Henry Ford sold his house in 1947, and it remained a private home until the city purchased it in 1988. The Edison & Ford Winter Estates is operated and maintained as a non-profit offering a plethora of tours and activities including an extensive museum dedicated to the genius of these two men. A visit to Edison’s jungle is to step back to an age where great ideas were conjured in the mind rather than by an electronic device – although Thomas probably would have invented the computer if he’d had time.

Sunset over the Caloosahatchee River at Seminole Lodge
Sunset over the Caloosahatchee River at Seminole Lodge

You can read part 2 on Seminole Lodge:  Edison’s Jungle in Fort Myers, Florida

You can read more articles by Marc d’Entremont at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

Save

Save

Save

Save

FIT makes a uniform statement

Although fashion design is not my element,  it is one of my wife’s great passions. Yet a recent visit to the Museum at FIT – the Fashion Institute of Technology – in New York City’s historic Chelsea neighborhood unexpectedly connected with my interest in history.

John Galliano camouflage evening gown at FIT, New York
John Galliano camouflage evening gown at FIT, New York

The Fashion Institute of Technology is  America’s premiere college for the business and art of fashion design. Its museum’s current exhibit, Uniformity, is an entertaining exploration that will change the way you perceive the entire notion of uniforms. The 200 year retrospective from military to sports uniforms goes beyond the obvious, detailing their influence on everyday fashion from beach to formal wear.

In John Galliano’s camouflage evening gown for Dior in 2001 (above, left) the influence is obvious. Yet I never gave it much thought that this trend is at least two centuries old. What was more surprising to me is that uniforms, clothing meant to make the wearer impersonal, for so long influenced fashion designed to be individualistic.

Fashion based on 19th century British & French naval uniforms
Fashion based on 19th century British & French naval uniforms
Chitose Abe, 2015
Chitose Abe, 2015

As early as the 1840s, a portrait of Queen Victoria’s four year old son, Prince Edward Albert, in a naval uniform made a fashion statement for affluent children’s clothing.  By the 1890s, summer fashion for women (above left) had a decided naval bent and the trend has never lost favor (above right)

Designer Chitose Abe in her 2015 collection for her Sacai label combines British and French naval elements in her cotton and silk ensemble.

 

Yet by the 1940s military uniforms themselves combined functionality and fashion.

(left) 1943 W.A.V.E.S. uniform & (right) fashion influence
(left) Main Rousseau Bocher 1943 W.A.V.E.S. uniform & (right) & later fashion influence
WW II W.A.C. uniform designed by a committee.
WW II W.A.C. uniform designed by a committee.

The World War II uniform designed for the Navy’s new W.A.V.E.S. division was hailed as a fashion success – functional yet feminine. It was also the first military uniform designed by a major American couturier, the House of Mainbocher founded by Main Rousseau Bocher in 1929. But  the Army’s new W.A.C. division uniform was the work of a committee. It was not only dubbed “olive drab,” but blamed for poor W.A.C. recruitment numbers compared to the Navy’s W.A.V.E.S. Even in war fashion made a statement!

1890s American baseball uniforms
1890s American baseball uniforms

Perhaps no genre of uniforms has had a greater fashion influence than sports. From the baseball cap to brand logos, America’s national sport has convinced well dressed people that being a walking advertisement for your favorite team and brands is desirable to one’s identity.

(left) Geoffrey Beene, 1967, Jersey evening gown
(left) Geoffrey Beene, 1967, Jersey evening gown

Of course football followed suit. According to FIT, Geoffrey Beene “shocked the fashion elite” in 1967 with his sequined even gown that’s simply an elongated 1930s football jersey.

FIT’s fine Uniformity exhibit doesn’t ignore the influence on fashion of maid, butler, waiter and waitress clothing.  In 2015 Karl Lagerfeld designed this evening dress for the House of Chanel using the typical uniform of waiters in Parisian brasseries.

Karl Lagerfeld, 2015, French brasserie evening gown.
Karl Lagerfeld, 2015, French brasserie evening gown.

The museum of the  Fashion Institute of Technology, part of the State University of New York, is open Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free. What was even more surprising was the knowledge and enthusiasm of the staff, especially the guards. They were eager to engage in conversation and added to the pleasure of the exhibit.

You can read all my articles and subscribe to my Examiner columns at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner

Save

Save

Chill is one of 20 St. Petersburg Florida restaurants

featured in my new article

Twenty good Florida eats in Saint Petersburg

Chill Restaurant & Bar, St. Petersburg, Florida
Chill Restaurant & Bar, St. Petersburg, Florida

With an emphasis on independent ownership, Saint Petersburg chefs have the freedom to experiment or just create the best grilled grouper sandwich on the beach.

Lobster & Mango Salad, Sea Salt Restaurant, St. Petersburg, FL
Lobster & Mango Salad, Sea Salt Restaurant, St. Petersburg, FL

You can read all my articles and subscribe to my Examiner columns at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner

Save

Save

Save

In the street with a full moon over New York

via Instagram http://ift.tt/28TqyRe
#TimeSquare #newyork #night #photography #travel #trrvel #egallop #iSnap

Save

Save

“Sleepwalker” on the High Line

"Sleepwalker" ( (Tony Matelli 2014)
“Sleepwalker” ( (Tony Matelli 2014)

“Sleepwalker” (Tony Matalli 2014) is one of numerous art installations on the innovative New York High Line park. My love affair with the High Line goes back to its opening in 2009.

High Line, NYC
High Line, NYC

Now at its full one and a half mile length, the multi dimensional brainchild of designer Diane Von Furstenberg has set a new standard for urban reuse. Anchored by the famed Whitney Museum on the north end and the vibrant Chelsea Market to the south, the thin strip of re-purposed elevated train trestle that is the High Line teems with gardens, art and people relaxing.

 

 

High Line entrance at Gansevoort and Washington Street (Whitney Museum)
High Line entrance at Gansevoort and Washington Street (Whitney Museum)

Although its success has drawn condo and commercial developers, at least many of the new buildings show hints of imagination. As a destination in its own right, the High Line deserves its success.

One of several High Line sitting areas to observe life in lower Manhattan
One of several High Line sitting areas to observe life in lower Manhattan
High Line, NYC
High Line, NYC
West Village from the High Line, NYC
West Village from the High Line, NYC

 

garden in original rail tracks of the High Line
garden in original rail tracks of the High Line
The Swan, High Line, NYC (Matt Johnson 2016)
The Swan, High Line, NYC (Matt Johnson 2016)

Now take a risk??

"Nude Sunbathers," Kathryn Andrews 2016 (note: soft mist of cool water comes out from jets on the wall)
“Nude Sunbathers,” Kathryn Andrews 2016 (note: soft mist of cool water comes out from jets on the wall)

 

You can read all my articles and subscribe to my Examiner columns at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

The city cigars built on Tampa Bay

Ybor City Museum, Tampa, FL
Ybor City Museum, Tampa, FL

In a few square miles parcel of former Tampa marshland over two hundred cigar factories, manned by thousands of immigrant workers, were hand rolling half a billion cigars annually by the 1920s.

casitas
casitas

The fortuitous arrival in the 1880s of Spaniard Vicente Ybor turned a marshland into the cigar capital of the world and created a cultural phenomenon.

read more…

Cigars, Tampa and the revival of Ybor City

 

The Spanish Social Club, Ybor City
The Spanish Social Club, Ybor City

 

 

 

 

 

You can read all my articles and subscribe to my Examiner columns at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner

Sunlight on St. Pete Beach, Florida

Some need people on a beach. I like it’s changing moods usually sans humans.

Sunrise at St. Pete Beach, FL

sunrise on St. Pete Beach, FL
sunrise on St. Pete Beach, FL

 

Morning  colors at St. Pete Beach, FL

day time colors, Sunrise at St. Pete Beach, FL
day time colors, Sunrise at St. Pete Beach, FL

 

Lunch at St. Pete Beach, FL

Woodie's, St. Pete Beach, FL
Woodie’s, St. Pete Beach, FL

 

Bird in late afternoon at St. Pete Beach, FL

Bird in the late afternoon, St. Pete Beach, FL
Bird in the late afternoon, St. Pete Beach, FL

 

Sunset at St. Pete Beach, FL

Sunset at St. Pete Beach, FL
Sunset at St. Pete Beach, FL

and….

Moonset

moonset, St. Pete Beach, FL
moonset, St. Pete Beach, FL

 

You can read all my articles and subscribe to my Examiner columns at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner

Florida life before air conditioning

McMullen-Coachman Log Cabin (1852)
McMullen-Coachman Log Cabin (1852)

IMG_0642Other than the already centuries old Spanish domains in the north and the panhandle, south of St. Augustine Florida in the early 19th century was a land of bayous, forests, gators and mosquitoes. Fortunately, Florida’s still that way in some places.

 

 

 

 

The House of Seven Gables (1907)
The House of Seven Gables (1907)

Yet by the 1890s the Tampa Bay/Clearwater/Pinellas County Gulf of Mexico shore had been discovered by affluent Americans traveling by the new railroads that opened Florida. Their vacation homes would reflect the styles of the day from simple cottages to Edwardian mansions and Craftsman houses.

DSC_4894

Over two dozen historic structures – and growing – comprise the the 21-acre Pinellas County Heritage Village representing Florida life from the mid-1800s to the outbreak of the Second World War. You can continue the story at…

From tiny to grand at Pinellas County Historic Village

 

H.C. Smith Groceries (1915)
H.C. Smith Groceries (1915)

 

You can read all my articles and subscribe to my Examiner columns at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner

The night sky is smiling

 

St. Petersburg, FL
St. Petersburg, FL

 

 

You can read all my articles and subscribe to my Examiner columns at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner

No Santa in a bathing suit

Talking to Santa at North Straub Park, St. Petersburg, FL
Talking to Santa at North Straub Park, St. Petersburg, FL

Decorated artificial trees can be seen in the window walls of downtown condos, the cafes on Beach Drive are full of festive diners inside and out on the sidewalks and kids are talking to Santa under the Live Oaks on a balmy Saint Petersburg Christmas season evening.

St. Pete Christmas Boat Parade
St. Pete Christmas Boat Parade

It’s starting to feel a lot like a tropical Christmas.

Christmas, North Straub Park, St. Petersburg, FL
Christmas, North Straub Park, St. Petersburg, FL

You can read more at…

A tropical Florida Christmas in Saint Petersburg

 

Christmas Tree, City of Saint Petersburg, FL
Christmas Tree, City of Saint Petersburg, FL

 

You can read all my articles and subscribe to my Examiner columns at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner