Some adventures from around the Northeast in February.
Two years ago (yesterday) was a momentus day in the lives of those involved with the Lake Champlain Bridge. On a frigid January day, the first girder was set on Pier 7 of the Lake Champlain Bridge at Chimney Point. To those of us who had never seen such a feat, it was incredible, and we stayed long past normal working hours. And to those waiting for the bridge to open, it was another visual sign of progress.
Following the first girders, other significant Lake Champlain Bridge events include the Arch Raising on August 26, 2011 and the bridge opening on November 7, 2011 and the opening ceremony on May 19-20, 2012.
Sending lots of love, strength and hope to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. To relatives, friends and strangers on Long Island, in New York City and everywhere else, may you soon have power, hot water, a plan of action for your house if necessary and the warmth of community surrounding you. Vermont feels your pain in an all too familiar way, since Sandy comes only 14 months after Irene.
Vermont Strong, New York Strong — may we all be united and strong.
Bowling conjurs images of shiny lanes, matching shirts, funky bowling shoes, contraptions that reset the pins, return the bowling balls, birthday parties, bowling leagues, bad food, Fred Flinstone, cheesy movie scenes … at least in my head. And something else that bowling brings to mind for me is roadside architecture, thanks to the giant bowling pin on the roof of Port Jeff Bowl. Not quite as exciting as the Long Island Duck, the bowling pin remains part of Long Island’s roadside architecture collection.
Maybe some fellow Long Islanders can give me a hint as to the age of the building, bowling alley and the pin (Mom, any ideas?), but I have been unable to find any information so far. Anyone else know of a giant bowling pin?
Have you heard of Nikola Tesla? Shoreham, NY? The Wardenclyffe Tower? Stanford White? Wireless power transmission? Alternating current? You’ve heard of some of it anyway. Have you seen the movie, The Prestige? Ah-ha, good movie, yes? Each time you watch it, you’ll take note of more detail and clues. Have you heard of the website The Oatmeal? I promise, this is all connected.
Let’s start with Tesla. While we all know Thomas Edison for inventing electricity and the light bulb, there is actually a greater, more complicated back story (such is history, yes?). Nikola Tesla studied alternating current and worked for Thomas Edison. For an entertaining (language is not G rated, warning!) overview of Tesla’s accomplishments read this comic by the Oatmeal. For a more detailed account read this and this. In short, Nikola Tesla was a brilliant man ahead of his time and wanted to create free electricity for everyone. How awesome would that have been.
Next up, the Wardenclyffe Tower was part of Tesla’s lab in Shoreham, NY. The tower, never fully operational, was demolished in 1917, but a portion of it remains with the lab building. The property has been through many owners and has yet to be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places (because the property owner must approve the nomination) even though you could argue that this property is eligible for a National Historic Landmark nomination. This property was at risk for purchase and subsequent demolition, at a price tag of $1.7 million — not exactly pocket change for us preservationists.
The author of The Oatmeal began a campaign to raise $850,000 (which New York State would match) for the purchase price in order to turn the property into a museum and science center about Tesla and his work. So far the campaign has raised over $1 million. And there are still 10 days remaining to raise even more money, in order to garner funds for the museum development. The $1.7 million is only the property purchase price. Follow the Tesla Science Center on Twitter or find more information on the website. See this album of recent site visit photos.
So you see the success. The Oatmeal helped the fundraising go viral, perhaps to people who never knew about Tesla and to people who aren’t necessarily preservationists. Everyone can appreciate at least a small piece of this story: history, technology, innovation, architecture mixed with historic preservation, our modern information age, community (of all types) efforts, enthusiasm and the idea that you have to start somewhere in order to succeed. To The Oatmeal and all who donated and spread the word: congratulations! Once again, historic preservation is an overarching field that affects all of us in positive ways. Three cheers for everyone.
As for The Prestige. You should watch it and you’ll appreciate Nikola Tesla more than you thought.
This past weekend, May 19-20, was the grand opening celebration for the Lake Champlain Bridge in Chimney Point, VT and Crown Point, NY. The new bridge opened in November 2011, but the community celebration was planned for May. Warm, sunny skies graced the entire weekend, welcoming visitors from near and far. Events took place in Vermont and New York and ranged from performance shows to exhibits to a parade, petting zoo, car show, road race, historic site tours and much more. After years of the Lake Champlain Bridge community dealing with bridge closure, demolition, route detours, bridge construction, ferry rides, etc., it was gratifying to see everyone enjoying the new bridge and celebrating the community.
It was an absolutely beautiful weekend! The next time your cruising through the Champlain Valley, be sure to head over to Chimney Point and Crown Point for a good look at the bridge!