Article From the Winter 2005 Issue of
The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation
A REAL TURN-ON
You probably switched on a light someplace last December 31, with your mind on New Year’s Eve revelry or the resolutions you were planning to make. With that simple act, you were participating in an anniversary celebration. It was 125 years ago that night that Edison’s incandescent light bulb was first publicly demonstrated. Dignitaries and invited guests at his laboratory in Menlo Park, NJ were treated to the magic of bright, safe illumination, but they were also witness to Edison’s ingenuity in creating the full system needed to support that magic…power generation, distribution lines, and controls.
Three years later, the first large central electric-power station was inaugurated, in New York City. It didn’t take a big leap of imagination to envision wire strung above city streets, with electric motors mounted on the horsecars that were then the mainstay of urban transit, and the era of electric traction was born. "The rest is history", as we like to say, and that history is a big part of why the New York Museum of Transportation exists. Our substation will soon become an operating reality, and public trolley rides should follow after that. Thanks, Mr. Edison.