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Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

George DeAngelis sits at the tiller of his Quadricycle replica in 1963. He’s on Detroit’s Bagley Avenue, where Henry Ford built the original car in 1896.

George DeAngelis, a long-time Ford Motor Company employee and devoted student of Henry Ford and his automobiles, passed away on December 14, 2014. Mr. DeAngelis is remembered for his published works on the Ford Model A and the Ford V-8, as well as Henry Ford’s early 999 and Arrow race cars. Here at The Henry Ford, though, we especially remember him for a pair of three-dimensional contributions: his incredible 1963 and 1991 replicas of Henry Ford’s first car, the 1896 Quadricycle.

Regular visitors to Henry Ford Museum know that the Quadricycle – the original car built by Henry Ford himself – occupies a prominent place in our Driving America exhibit. While the original car was used frequently during Henry Ford’s life – indeed, he posed with it less than a year before he died – it was retired to Henry Ford Museum by 1963, the centennial of Henry Ford’s birth. DeAngelis set out to build a working replica for the celebration. DeAngelis had the perfect background for the task. He possessed the skills of a tool and die maker, but with the careful eye of an artist. He had a genuine love for antique automobiles, to boot.

There were no blueprints of the Quadricycle, so DeAngelis gathered every written description and photograph he could find. Of course, he also had the original Quadricycle as a pattern. The historic car sat in an enclosed display case, so DeAngelis estimated his initial measurements through the glass. Amazingly, when the original Quadricycle was removed for confirmation, DeAngelis found he had made only one error – and of just 5/8 of an inch!

What DeAngelis thought would be a one-winter project turned into three years of nights and weekends. He was able to source some of his parts from lawn mower catalogs, and some from antique shops, but most he made himself. While the replica stayed remarkably true to the original, DeAngelis made a few concessions to safety and reliability. Most notably, he gave his replica a brake – something Henry’s Quadricycle never had. The work was finished by June 4, 1963, when DeAngelis drove his replica along the same route Henry Ford took during the original Quadricycle’s first drive on June 4, 1896.

George DeAngelis rides in his 1963 Quadricycle replica at Old Car Festival in 2012.

When the festivities ended, The Henry Ford purchased the replica from George DeAngelis. Over the years, the 1963 copy became a staple of our annual Old Car Festival, thrilling visitors each year as museum staff drove it through Greenfield Village. In a neat coda to the story, we commissioned DeAngelis to build a second Quadricycle replica nearly 30 years later. DeAngelis’s 1991 replica now sits in the reconstruction of Henry Ford’s Bagley Avenue shed in Greenfield Village.

Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

Racing In America

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Expedia Viewfinder and The Henry Ford teamed up to discuss some of the best places to visit.

Expedia Viewfinder and Henry Ford Museum teamed up to discuss some of the best places to visit.

Henry Ford’s invention of the Model T put Americans in the driver’s seat. His affordable automobile made everything from running errands and commuting to work to taking Sunday drives and embarking on road trips possible for ordinary people. The Model T transformed the way Americans traveled and paved the road for the future of vehicles.

Expedia Viewfinder discovered that Henry Ford Museum refreshed its Driving America exhibit not too long ago, and we got to thinking about how these antique vehicles have contributed to our own opportunities for modern-day travel. With a set of wheels, we can tour unique corners of the country and witness unrivaled beauty at our leisure. Since it was Henry Ford who made road tripping possible in the first place, it only seemed fitting to partner up with The Henry Ford, home of the country’s premier automotive museum, to discuss some of our favorite routes and roadside attractions.

Some of the nation’s most scenic areas are best viewed from behind the steering wheel with the windows rolled down. So on your next open-road adventure, buckle up, rev your engine, and cruise over to these must-see attractions: Continue Reading

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It was crisp morning at the far end of the Village when I came in to work on a Sunday last month, sunshine hitting the fallen leaves and brightening up the inside of the 1760 Daggett Farmhouse. It was a perfect day for wool dyeing in the way of the colonial time period, and just about the time of year that Anna Daggett herself may have had some time to experiment with colors. Continue Reading

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On this week's episode of The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation you'll learn about Igor Sikorsky. Want to learn even more? Take a look below.

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Igor Sikorsky Photos

Learn

Igor Sikorsky’s VS-300 Helicopter Transformed Aviation 75 Years Ago

 

Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

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During the launch of Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame former Detroit Lion Barry Sanders toured the exhibit and received a special tour of the exhibit's highlights. Take a look at Barry's visit and hear what he has to say about this exhibit, on display at Henry Ford Museum through January 4, 2015.

Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

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Dan Gurney possesses a wide-ranging curiosity and hands-on attitude that has resulted in a number of innovations including the downforce-increasing "Gurney flap." The only American to win a Formula One race in a car he built himself, Gurney also brought British race car builder Colin Chapman and Ford Motor Company together. The collaboration produced a Ford-powered Indy 500 winner in 1965. Chapman's Lotus chassis was the first rear engine car to the win the 500, and rear engine cars have won every race since. Although Gurney's California shop, All American Racers, no long produces Eagle race cars, they completed the prototype for the new Delta Wing race car in March 2012. In addition, Gurney continues to apply his talents and skills to the design and production of Alligator Motorcycles.

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2014 Edison-Ford Medal Recipient

On October 29, 2014 Dan Gurney received the Edison-Ford Medal for Innovation in a ceremony at The Henry Ford, with Charlie Rose as Master of Ceremonies.

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The prize honors individuals who fully leverage the creative, innovative and entrepreneurial spirit that resides in every one of us. Gurney's many accomplishments, first as a driver and later as a designer, builder and team owner, exemplify the character of American ingenuity.

Matt Anderson is Curator of Transportation at The Henry Ford.

Racing In America

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This week on “The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation” you’ll learn about the Dymaxion House. Want to learn more? Take a look.

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  • Tuning the Dymaxion House
  • Repairing the Dymaxion House
  • Gauging the Condition of the Dymaxion House
  • The Dymaxion House: The Same and Improved
  • The House of the Future
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    Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

    The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

    The Dymaxion House inside Henry Ford Museum.

    To some people it’s a giant Hershey’s Kiss, while others sense a kinship with the Airstream travel trailer—both, it should be noted, recognized as icons. Even the more general touchstones—retro-futuristic spacecraft themes seem to hold sway here—tie into something powerfully elemental. Either way, the Dymaxion house has over the last decade assumed an iconic presence in Henry Ford Museum, a presence that delights and provokes a wide range of visitors. Continue Reading

    The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

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    Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village is a time-honored tradition at The Henry Ford. But, this doesn’t mean we’re afraid of shaking things up a bit! Much in the spirit of the spooky holiday, our Productions team likes to trick guests and keep each year a surprise in and of itself. This year has been no different, and with just one weekend left to enjoy the sights and sounds of Halloween, guests have been, and will be this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, in for a treat.

    According to Senior Manager of Exhibitions & Program Production, Greg Harris, Hallowe’en is a staff favorite, so he’s constantly taking a look back and asking how they can upgrade and improve with each year.

    This year that surprise has come in the form of a brand new route and some never-before-seen experiences. Continue Reading

    “Mystically spooky.”

    That’s how Jim Johnson described Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hallow.” The 1820s short story is the inspiration for the grand finale of sorts at Hallowe’en at Greenfield Village – where visitors cross the bridge and encounter the infamous Headless Horseman.

    Irving’s story, Gothic literature, legends and other spooky tales are fundamental elements for much of the fun at Greenfield Village’s annual Halloween event.

    “After the renovations to Greenfield Village, we decided to lift our Halloween event to a new level,” said Jim Johnson, who is senior manager of creative programs at The Henry Ford. “With the village as our backdrop, we wanted to find our own niche that had something for everyone and was family friendly.”

    Just being in the village at night is a unique experience, and it provides the perfect setting for a Halloween event inspired by the past.

    Graveyard at Greenfield Village

    Jim said they looked at how the holiday evolved. “We found interesting things about how the celebration of Halloween changed over time,

    “Customs started to take shape toward the at the end of the 19th century and almost click through a process that takes us to where we are today - where we decorate our homes and go house-to-house for trick or treating.”

    Coming into the 20th century, Halloween wasn’t necessarily a kids’ holiday – other than they commonly pulled pranks like knocking over outhouses, putting wagons on rooftops, etc., Jim said. In order to curb the kids’ enthusiasm for a little mayhem, municipalities got into the action by planning themed parties and offering games and treats as a diversion from the destruction.

    Halloween books at Greenfield Village

    To meet the party trend, at the turn of the century and into the 1920s and 30s, there were a multitude of Halloween party guides and booklets published mostly by women, and candy and novelty companies.

    Vintage Halloween party books

    A popular inexpensive resource was Dennison’s Bogie Books. Dennison’s sold crepe paper used to decorate and make costumes. Jim Johnson keeps these reproductions on hand for reference and inspiration.

    Frankenstein at Menlo ParkAdventure stories and Gothic literature were popular at that time and have sustained elevated interest at Halloween time. Robert Louis Stevenson’s adventures of buccaneers and buried gold in Treasure Island continues to inspire as seen in recent movie tales of tropical pirating. At Greenfield Village, pirates with sensibilities old and new populate the Suwanee Lagoon and walk among visitors, giving them a taste what it might be like conversing with an 1880s-style high seas treasure seeker.

    With a nod to Gothic literature, Dr. Frankenstein has a perfect workspace - setting up shop in Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory.

    Mary Shelley’s story of Frankenstein still holds the attention of audiences today, even though the book was first published in the early 1800s.

    Another famous character from Gothic literature is making his debut at the village this year. A silent film based on Bram Stoker’s 1887 Dracula is shown near Sarah Jordan Boarding House.

    Dracula

    Visitors are captivated by the large projections of the 1922 vampire film Nosferatu (Dracula).

    Works of the master of the macabre – Edgar Allen Poe – are highlighted in two prominent stops.

    The ravens resting on the railing at Eagle Tavern are treated to the eerie tale twice: narrated once by a famous actor and once by a fictitious man. Visitors can hear the chilling story told by actor Christopher Walken and again by cartoon character Homer Simpson.

    Tell-Tale Heart

    Poe makes another appearance near Town Hall where actor Anthony Lucas provides a mesmerizingly haunting performance of the mad man at the center of the Tell-Tale Heart.

    Hansel and Gretel

    A first person account of the Brother’s Grimm tale of Hansel and Gretel (with a surprise twist) keeps audiences of all ages intrigued.

    Red Riding Hood

    Throughout the village – authentically or whimsically – many costume creations are inspired by characters from famous stories of old. Hunchbacks, witches, Little Red Riding Hood, mermaids, fortunetellers, strong men, Merlin the Magician... 

    … and even a character from Richard Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser.

    Near the end of trick-or-treating through the village, visitors can take a seat and listen to the tale that sets the scene for the remainder of their journey – through the dark candle-lit tangles of the Mulberry Grove (not-too-hauntingly) transformed into Sleepy Hallow.

    Sleepy Hollow

    Actor Seth Amadei gives a riveting account of the series of events that led up to the mysterious disappearance of schoolmaster Ichabod Crane in Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hallow.

    Scarecrow

    Visitors just have to pass through the hallow and over the bridge …

    Hallowe’en at Greenfield Village - inspired by old, new, mystical, whimsical and just the right amount of spooky.

    Greenfield Village, Hallowe'en in Greenfield Village