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1928 - underground electric arc light cable which is believed to be the oldest in the country at Industrial Museum of the Peaceful Arts


CD 2055054 E&MP5.021

Cables, Coaxial

NOV 5 1928

The Industrial Museum of the Peaceful Arts has received from Cornell University a piece of the underground electric arc light cable which is believed to be the oldest in the country and which was buried on the Cornell Campus for over forty years. The cable was 500 feet in length, carried 20 amperes and conveyed current one way to two arc lamps in the steeple of the university chapel.

The cable was made about 1880 by Professors W.A. Anthony and G.S. Moler of the Cornell Department of Physics. Professor Molerís story of how it was made is very interesting. They first wrapped muslin strips around a #8 copper wire. Then after drawing this wrapped wire through iron pipe, smoking hot tallow was poured in at tees along the joints of the pipe.

It is remarkable that the iron pipe of that day is still good pipe after being buried for over forty years and even more remarkable that the electric insulation in this cable is still in apparently as good condition as when it was made. It is another of those cases where the first workmen in the field were masters.

While the Industrial Museum of the Peaceful Arts generally portrays the newest principles and processes that make for our progress, this piece of cable takes its place with many other historical relics of interest which the Museum exhibits at 24 West 40th Street, New York City, such as the Eli Whitney Milling Machine, the early Hartford Automatic Screw Machine, Benjamin Franklinís lightning rod, the oldest telescope used for photographing the moon and constellations, and numerous others. 

Original Caption by Science Service
©Cornell University

Additional text found - transcription only - no image(s) November 3, 2013


Twenty Museums of Peaceful Arts Along the Hudson--

Ninety-sixth to One Hundred and Tenth Street.

Twenty Buildings Planned for Exposition of the Peaceful Arts and to Aid in the Education of Higher Types of Artisans.

The New York Times April 26, 1914

Stadium at Ninety-sixth Street, Facing on Hudson at the South of Proposed Museum Group.

During the past week plans have been actively furthered toward the materialization of the project to establish in this city a group of twenty great industrial museums to be known as the Museums for Peaceful Arts, surpassing anything of the kind in any other city of the world.

It was only a few days ago that the project was first announced by the committee of business leaders who had it quietly under consideration theretofore [sic]; but the personnel of that committee was an earnest[sic] of speedy and vigorous action to transform the project into a reality of brick and mortar, concrete and marble and steel.

Two days after the announcement of the incorporation of the Museums of Peaceful Arts plans were being designed for the group of buildings and the individual buildings by a prominent architect, and the selection of a definite site to contain the museum group was under way. More important still, over $1,500,000 of the estimated $20,000,000 to $30,000,000 required for the realization of the plan had been promised, and more was in sight.

As designed by those in charge, the museum group will eclipse all the existing museum facilities of New York and make the city the metropolis of industrial education. New York's artistic and scientific wants are provided for by the two great existing museums, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History. In facilities to educate a higher type of mechanic, artisan, and handicraftsman, however, with increased usefulness to city, State, and Nation, comparatively little has been provided. Pratt Institute and Cooper Institute have accomplished much, but they cannot begin to meet the tremendous demands of the city's vast and growing industrial population.

One of the first to recognize this civic deficiency was Dr. George Frederick Kunz, President of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, and one of the foremost movers of the present museum project. He pointed it out more than two years ago in an address to the American Museum Association in this city, and the plan has taken more definite proportions in his mind since.

Great Benefit from Museums.

"More than a million men in New York City would derive incalculable benefit from a group of such museums, a group of museums where every kind of artisan or mechanic can see every known article, appliance, or device in his particular line of industry." he said. "In such a museum each industry could be studied in its true proportions and the artistic beauty of each product be mastered. A glass tumbler may be worth only 5 cents, but if properly cut and engraved it becomes worth $100, $200, or even $500.

"The skill necessary to achieve such a feat is developed by contact with the industry concerned, and men and women learn most and best when they can examine things by way of recreation in their leisure time. There is today in the United States a greater field than ever for products of better quality, whether the product be and axe or a shovel or a wagon or an automobile. The supreme demand of the time is for carpenters who can become better carpenters, machinists who are better machinists, better engineers, better chauffeurs, better printers, and better binders--in short, for men in industry who have been taught methods of greater efficiency.

"Such men are primarily the product of better facilities for industrial study, such museums as these we propose to erect. The wide difference between men in cities enjoying such facilities and men in places where there are fewer or no such facilities can be seen at a moments" survey of the country.

"The actual value of the products of the country's natural wealth in 1909 was $20,072,032,000, of which 57 per cent was contributed by the workers and wage-earners in industry. Their skill and success varied from State to State. While the average was $1,290, South Carolina showed the lowest figure, $642; whereas New York State had far more reason to be proud of its workingmen, since an average of $1,506 was added for each of its 1,003,961 wage earners in a total production of #3,369,490,000.

"This shows what wonderful results can be expected when greater encouragement, and, above all, better opportunities for instruction are provided for our workers. There can be no doubt that with the progress of time an ever-increasing proportion of our population will be devoted to industrial work. In France more than 12 1/2 per cent. of the population is engaged in manufacturing work of one kind or another, while in the United States only 7 1/4 per cent. of the population is so employed."

The incorporators of the museum last week received the certificate of incorporation from the State Board of Regents at Albany. they are: Dr. Marston T. Bogart, President of the International Society of Chemical Industry; A. Barton Hepburn, ex-President of the Chamber of Commerce; Jacob H. Schiff, Frank A Vanderlip, President of the National City Bank; Thomas A. Edison, Alexander C. Humphreys, President of Stevens Institute; Robert Underwood Johnson, editor of The Century Magazine; Dr. George F. Kunz, Dr. Louis Livingston Seaman, Melville E. Stone, General Manager of the Associated Press; Calvin W. Rice, Secretary of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; H. A. Handenberg, architect of the Waldorf-Astoria and Manhattan Hotels: Elbert H. Gary, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the United States Steel Corporation; Job E. Hedges, John A. Stewart, Charles H. Strong, President of the City Club; Nikola Tesla, Henry R. Towne, T. Comerford Martin, H. E. Huntington, and Robert E. Peary.

Not only one but several groups of museums like those proposed could be bought and paid for in spot cash by this group of business men and scientists.

"It has been estimated that the museums will cost between $20,000,000 and $30,000,000," said Dr. Kunz. "That is much, but by no means more that can readily be raised in this city. Many rich men are prepared to contribute enough for the erection of a single museum provided it is brought about under proper and reliable auspices, and provided it will be devoted specially to the industry which they themselves have made their life work."

The approaching celebration of the hundred years of peace between English-speaking nations provided a fitting opportunity for the launching of the museum project. In the certificate of incorporation granted last week the objects of the corporation are stated as follows:

To establish and to maintain as a permanent and useful memorial of the century of peace and amity that has followed the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on Christmas Eve, 1814, in the City of New York, and for the people thereof, and for the benefit of the citizens of the citizens of the State of New York and of the United States generally, buildings which shall be devoted to the housing and proper exposition of permanent exhibits in the following branches. among others, of the industrial and peaceful arts:

Electricity. |Textiles.
Steam. |Ceramics and clas.
Astronomy and nav- |Architecture.
igation' |Scenic embellish-
Safety appliances. | ment.
Aviation. |Gardening.
Mechanical arts. |Roads and road
Agriculture. | building mate-
Mining. | rials.
Labor. |Commerce and
Efficiency. | trade.
Historic records. |Printing and books.
Health and hy- |
giene. |

The location of the proposed museum buildings has not been definitely settled, and before it is, it is likely to become a question of importance and wide discussion. The project of bringing the museums into Central Park has been broached, but has not found favor with the incorporators. They are anxious to avoid any semblance of encroaching on the present park space of the city and encountering the resultant antagonism of the elements of the community that have constituted themselves the guardians of the people's parks. These museums are to be the people's museums, and the movers of the project are, above all, anxious for the cooperation, not the antagonism, of every part of the city's population.

The place which stands out most prominently as a possible site for the museum group, according to Dr. Kunz, is that section just west of Riverside Park and north of Ninety-sixth Street to about 110th Street. There, on land filled into the river beyond the New York Central tracks, and hence by no means an encroachment on the present available park space, in the view of the projectors, it is proposed to erect the structures, for one of which a gift of about $1,000,000 already seems assured. The expense of the undertaking, it is declared, should be borne in equal shares by the State, the city, and the committee, wherever the contributions by public-spirited citizens fail to suffice.

Dr. Kunz, himself one of the most ardent opponents of the invasion of Central Park, said of the Riverside site:

"The whole complex series of structures might be erected on the west side of Riverside Drive, between Ninety-sixth and 110th Streets, and made ground could be obtained by the filling in of the Hudson River with earth and rock from the various subway and other excavations that are constantly being executed. Over and above their accessibility and usefulness they would constitute ornaments for both the river front and the driveway. The use of this site would prove of service to the Jersey shore as well, for a landing place could be established on the river with adequate facilities to answer as a distributing centre for passenger traffic between points in New York City, New Jersey, and along the Hudson River, and it could also be utilized by steamers from the Sound and elsewhere, the use of the landing being made entirely free for this purpose. The tunnels beneath the North River, which are sure to be constructed in the near future, would also serve to transport visitors to and from these museums.

"A spur of the subway, Ninety-sixth Street station, could bring visitors into the building and to Riverside Drive. This spur could lie under the present Subway and have an end at the Central Park, tappng[sic] all the transit lines, or, better still, go under the Park to the East River waterfront; a great cross-city line. The Y feature of the Ninety-sixth Street station is like a central heart to three great districts of the city, the Bronx, Van Cortlandt, and lower New York and Brooklyn.

"Hence the laying of surface tracks and the establishment of extensive freight yards within the boundaries of the park should be avoided. All the requirements of the railroad can be satisfied and the park preserved by placing the tracks under cover, and to this there can be no objection."

To make the museum group accessible to New Jersey as well as every part of this city, Dr. Kunz suggests the construction of a tunnel under the Hudson River at this point from New Jersey to the Manhattan shore, and then continued under Ninety-sixth Street to Astoria.

Besides the proximity of the proposed site to the Broadway and Lenox Subway lines, the Broadway, Columbus, and Amsterdam Avenue surface lines, and the Hudson River navigation lines, the Riverside Park site appealed to Dr. Kunz by reason of the need of beautifying that river front itself. Those who advocate the filling in of the river front here and the placing thereon of the proposed museums point prospectively by way of contrast to present conditions to the same section after erection of the group of marble buildings surrounded by an artistic park space, when the ugly railroad tracks are covered up and hidden from view by rosebushes and shrubbery. In that day, instead of the present freight tracks, they see visions of a circular underground tramway connecting the various buildings, and a beautiful esplanade, 2,000 feet long, fronting on the river the whole length of the museum site.

"There is no other place where we could place these buildings to such good advantage." said Dr. Kunz.

"Here they will be in the very traffic centre of the city, in the centre, too, of its finest residential section, accessible to the people of neighboring places.

"When the proposed stadium is erected, accommodating at least 100,000, it can be utilized among other things for the holding of a great athletic meet similar to the Olympic Games. Apart from its employment for purely athletic purposes, it could be used for patriotic ceremonies, public holidays, military drills, concerts, horse shows, electric shows, poultry shows, land shows, or any other function requiring large space.

"In regard to time, there is no time like the present. We have still with us Edison, Thomsom, Houston, Tesla, one of the Wrights, Alexander Graham Bell, Marconi, and many others whose inventions have revolutionized the mode of living of the entire world, and their original experimental work should be preserved forever.

Great Hopes for Future.

"We have still with us many of the generals of industry, through whose leadership many of the greatest incorporations have been formed, the men who see visions, who believe in the possibility of higher industrial education. What may we not safely trust to see created eight years hence, if adequate encouragement is given, and if the materials already secured are properly grouped together, so that they illustrate one another and suggest new and greater developments?"

The museums will be modeled in principle on the Deutches Museum of Munich, but will be laid out on a much greater and more comprehensive scale. The buildings are to be of stone and concrete, and the one devoted to transportation will probably be the largest of the group. A central library building will contain books and periodic literature dealing with all the industries concerned in the various buildings of the museum group. The great assembly hall is to be used for popular assembly, with the adjacent rooms for committee meetings and lectures. The museums, the libraries and the assembly rooms are all to be open to the students of colleges and schools of the city and State.

By grouping the museums instead of scattering them in different parts of the city further economy is to be gained through the use of a single power station for all of them, itself serving as a sort of mechanical model for electric power stations. It is possible that an electric tramway or a moving sidewalk may be constructed to connect the buildings.


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