Edison and Ford: A Lasting Friendship
19 artifacts in this set
Oriental Hotel on Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn, New York, Site of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison's First Meeting in 1896
Henry Ford attended the 1896 convention of the Association of Edison Illuminating Companies, held at the Oriental Hotel on Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn, New York. During a banquet, Ford had a personal encounter with his boyhood hero, Thomas Edison -- a brief but encouraging landmark in the ambitious engineer's life.
Snapshot by Henry Ford of Thomas Edison outside the Oriental Hotel, Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, New York, 1896
Henry Ford attended the 1896 meeting of the Association of Edison Illuminating Companies in Brooklyn, New York, with camera in tow. During the convention, Ford captured several candid shots of his boyhood hero, Thomas Edison. He also had a personal encounter with Edison at a banquet -- a brief but encouraging landmark in the ambitious engineer's life.
Henry Ford and Thomas Edison Inspecting a Coal Mine at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915
The Panama-Pacific International Exposition celebrated the completion of the Panama Canal and the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Pacific Ocean. Nearly nineteen million people visited the San Francisco fair throughout 1915, including Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, seen here touring the Palace of Mines and Metallurgy. On this trip, the pair also traveled to meet Luther Burbank and solidified plans for future camping excursions.
Calling themselves the Vagabonds, industrialists Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone, and naturalist John Burroughs, took annual camping trips between 1916 and 1924. In 1921, the group received a visit from President Warren Harding while camping in Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Sometime during that trip, Ford and Edison sat down for this chat.
Edsel and Eleanor Ford, Henry and Clara Ford, and Mina and Thomas Edison on the Private Railroad Car "Fair Lane," circa 1923
By 1920, Henry and Clara Ford found it increasingly difficult to travel with any degree of privacy. They purchased a private railcar and named it Fair Lane. The car had four private rooms, an observation lounge, a dining room, and a fully equipped kitchen. It could accommodate eight passengers. The couple made over 400 trips using Fair Lane before selling the passenger car in 1942.
Henry Ford and Thomas Edison with Fort Myers Laboratory at Its Original Site, Fort Myers, Florida, circa 1925
Thomas Edison and Henry Ford owned vacation homes near one another in Fort Myers, Florida. This photograph shows the good friends and neighbors in front of Edison's Fort Myers laboratory. In 1929, Ford would have the building moved to Greenfield Village -- his historical outdoor museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
In 1916, Henry and Clara Ford purchased "The Mangoes." The Fort Myers, Florida, property adjoined the winter home of Thomas Edison -- Henry's friend and mentor. The Fords' estate featured a Craftsman bungalow and grounds lush with citrus trees and tropical plants. From the grounds the Fords could look out onto the Caloosahatchee River and view the Edisons' dock.
Henry Ford and Thomas Edison Meeting the Press at the West Orange Laboratory for Edison's 80th Birthday, February 1927
Thomas Edison's birthday had become a major celebration by the 1920s. Henry Ford traveled to New Jersey for the festivities in 1927, Edison's eightieth year. Ford joined Edison’s annual birthday press conference, conducted at his West Orange laboratory. Other events marking the occasion were held at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark.
When Henry Ford introduced the Model A, his first all-new car in 19 years, he gave the first example to his close friend and mentor, inventor Thomas Edison. At Edison's request, the car was rebuilt with an open touring-style body, and Ford made further updates over the years. Edison used this Model A until his death in 1931.
Thomas Edison visited the site of Henry Ford's museum and village in Dearborn, Michigan, a year before it was officially dedicated as the Edison Institute of Technology. Edison ceremoniously started a steam engine in the Fort Myers Laboratory, the first building installed in Greenfield Village. The engine was original to the lab, where Edison had conducted scientific investigations while wintering in Florida.
September 27th, 1928, on the future site of Henry Ford's new museum, famed inventor Thomas Edison placed a spade once used by legendary horticulturist Luther Burbank into a block of freshly poured Portland cement. Ford looked on as his friend and personal hero wrote his name in the wet cement, officially dedicating Henry Ford Museum--where this "cornerstone" is now displayed.
The cornerstone commemorates the dedication of The Henry Ford. It suggests a union of nature (Luther Burbank's spade) and technology (Edison's signature and footprints). That unity is borne out by the block itself, made from Portland cement refined from blast furnace slag at the Ford's Rouge plant--a great example of Henry Ford approaching industry like a good farmer, denying the concept of waste.
Invitation to Light's Golden Jubilee Celebration and Edison Institute Dedication, Dearborn, Michigan, 1929
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the incandescent electric lamp, Henry Ford hosted the Light's Golden Jubilee in Dearborn, Michigan. Ford chose the occasion to dedicate the Edison Institute of Technology to his dear friend, Thomas Edison. Many celebrities accepted invitations to the gala, including President and Mrs. Herbert Hoover, Orville Wright, George Eastman, Marie Curie, and Will Rogers.
Henry Ford and Clara Ford, Thomas Edison and Mina Edison in Menlo Park Laboratory before Light's Golden Jubilee, October 1929
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the incandescent electric lamp, Henry Ford hosted the Light's Golden Jubilee in Dearborn, Michigan. Ford chose the occasion to dedicate Greenfield Village to his friend, Thomas Edison. During the festivities, Ford, Edison and their wives posed for this photograph in Greenfield Village's detailed reproduction of Edison's Menlo Park Laboratory.
The first practical incandescent electric lamp was successfully tested at Thomas Edison's Menlo Park Laboratory in 1879. Fifty years later, Edison re-enacted this event at the Menlo Park complex Henry Ford had reconstructed in Greenfield Village. Edison presented this recreated bulb to his friend during the official dedication of the Edison Institute of Technology, Ford's village and museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
This test tube was one of several that Charles Edison noticed standing open in a rack in the bedroom in which his father had just died in 1931. The attending physician was asked to seal the tubes, one of which Charles later sent on to Henry Ford who kept it with other Edison mementos at his home, Fair Lane.