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The National Automobile Show at Madison Square Garden


Madison Square Garden saw the first real automobile show in 1900, during the week of November 3-10. Even then people were afraid to go too close to the curious contrivances. A flat oval track was built in the arena at the Garden upon which makers might prove to the public that the things would run. People took care to sit in the galleries during demonstrations and those who wanted to cross the track did so over a bridge. A sensation was created by the discovery that cars were able to climb a wooden hill which had been made on the roof of the Garden. To run down, of. course, but really to climb up! That they did not go too fast we know from the fact that most of them were single cylinder affairs.

There were thirty-one exhibitors of complete motor cars at that first show and twenty of parts and accessories. It seems a far cry from those few dauntless rattle-traps to the eighty-seven passenger cars, seventy-five trucks and 284 accessories of this twentieth show, but the development has been consistent and logical. ~ The Hardware Review, 1920

1st National Auto Show, 1900
1st National Auto Show, 1900

From The Horseless Carriage, 1900:

In the obstacle contest on Monday evening Walter C. Baker, of the Baker Motor Vehicle Company, was the winner, his best time being 25 seconds. A. L. Riker, whose vehicle was driven by Ed. Adams, was second.

The following are the results of the brake contest for gasoline vehicles held on Tuesday evening, November 6:

No. 19, Automobile Company of America the winner; driver, F. W. Walsh; best time, 7 3-5 seconds. The distance run was 150 feet and the vehicle stopped in 16 feet 9 inches. There were three other entries, but only one prize was given. The other entries were: Duryea Motor Company (no time given); No. 18, Ohio Automobile Company (no time given); No. 17, Holyoke Automobile Company (no time given), and No. 20, International Motor Carriage Company (no time given).

On Tuesday evening was also held an obstacle contest for gasoline vehicles, which resulted as follows:. No. 19, Automobile Company of America (F. W. Walsh, driver), was the winner, the best time being 36 2-5 seconds; No. 17, Holyoke Automobile Company (L. Saunders, driver), was second. The best time was 47 2-5 seconds. No. 18, Ohio

Automobile Company, best time over one minute. No. 20, International Motor Carriage Company; best time, 43 4-5 seconds. The Ohio Automobile Company and the International Company were tied for third place.

A bicycle coat and waistcoat race was held November 8. Each rider rode 3 laps. No. 6, Waltham M’f’g Company (pink shirt rider); time, 237 3-5 seconds. No. 16, Canda Tricycle Company; time, 248 3-5 seconds. No. 5, De DionBouton tricycle (rider, Henry Brandt); time, 238 1-5 seconds. No. 6, Waltham M’f’g Co. (blue shirt rider); time, 247 1-5 seconds. No. 16, Canda M’f’g Company; time, 320 seconds. Final heat between Nos. 5 and 6; No. 6’s time, 233 1-5 seconds, and time of No. 5, 226 1-5 seconds. De Dion-Bouton Motorette Company, winner.

On the same evening was held a contest for gasoline vehicles, in which the time required for starting was the deciding factor.

In the first heat the Knox gasoline runabout made a best time of 17 4-5 seconds. In the second heat a gasmobile, of the Automobile Company of America (driven by F. W. Walsh) made a best time of 16 1-5 seconds. In the third heat the Packard gasoline carriage made a time of 20 3-5 seconds, and in the fourth heat the same vehicle reduced its time to 19 3-5 seconds. In the final heat, between the Knox runabout and the gasmobile, the former broke its chain and the gasmobile won the event.

On November 9 there was a brake contest for electric vehicles, the distance being 100 feet. National Automobile Company, driven by P. B. Skillman; time, 5 3-5 seconds; distance, 12 feet 6 inches. Woods Motor Vehicle Company, driven by E. W. Curtis, Jr.; time, 6 2-5 seconds; distance, 23 feet 5 inches. No. 10, Baker Motor Vehicle Company, driven by W. C. Baker; time, 7 1-5 seconds; distance, 11 feet. Baker Motor Vehicle Company, time, 8 3-5 seconds; distance, 6 feet 10 inches. Riker Motor Vehicle Company; time, 5 4-5 seconds; distance, 14 feet 5 inches. Final heat between Riker Motor Vehicle Company and National Automobile and Electric Company: time of the Riker vehicle, 6 2-5 seconds; distance, 10 feet 7 inches. Time of National carriage, 6 seconds; distance, 12 feet 1 inch. The Riker Motor Vehicle Company was the winner.

On Saturday, November 10, there was a championship obstacle contest between the winners of all three classes in the previous similar events. The results were as follows: Baker electric runabout (driven by A. C. Baker); time in first trial, 24 4-5 seconds; in second trial, 30 2-5 seconds. Locomobile (driven by S. Houston, time in first trial, 31 1-5 seconds; in second trial, 40 3-5 seconds. Gasmobile, of the Automobile Company of America (driven by F. W. Walsh), time in first trial, 28 1-5 seconds; in second trial, 36 2-5 seconds. The Baker vehicle won the event.

The last contest was a championship brake contest between winners of all classes in the previous brake contests. The results were: Riker electric vehicle (Ed. Adams, driver), first trial, time, 6 2-5 seconds; distance, 14 feet 6% inches: second trial, time, 6 2-5 seconds; distance, 15 feet 11 inches. Gasmobile of the Automobile Company of America (driven by F. W. Walsh), first trial, time, 5 3-5 seconds; distance, 17 feet 6 Inches; second trial, time, 5 2-5 seconds; distance, 19 feet 5 inches. Locomobile, time, 4 4-5 seconds; distance, 27 feet 8% inches; second trial, time, 5 1-6 seconds; distance, 20 feet 414 Inches.

The Rlker Motor Vehicle Company was the winner and the Automobile Company of America the second.

Photo from Encyclopedia Brittanica.

Pleasure, Pain, and the Panama Canal


Roosevelt big stick diplomacy

America at the turn of the century stood at a crossroads. It had conquered the West, proved its might with the Spanish-American War, and along with Germany, had become a global supplier of goods and technologies. Yet, because of its youth, it remained a small player on an international scope, forced to bow to the centuries of expertise and might of its European peers. With the inadvertent placement of Theodore Roosevelt in the White House, an energetic, youthful, and charismatic man not unlike the country he led, the United States was poised to snatch the attention away from Europe and to show she was nothing less than an equal—perhaps even a superior—to the Old Country.

Since the 1820s, the Monroe Doctrine had become a defining force in American foreign policy. Back then, in the midst of Latin American countries throwing off the yoke of the Spanish Empire, the United States was concerned of the possibility of another European power asserting a claim on the Americas, and President James Monroe stated “that further efforts by European countries to colonize land or interfere with states in the Americas would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention.” In short, it basically gave the United States carte blanche to assert its own claims in the Americas.

After the Venezuelan Crisis of 1902, in which Germany, Italy and Britain formed a blockade of the country in retaliation for unpaid debts and sparked a minor armed conflict. The presence of European gunboats in American waters was very unpopular in the United States, and as President Roosevelt pressured the European powers to drop the blockade, he stationed naval forces in Puerto Rico, “to ensure ‘the respect of Monroe doctrine’ and the compliance of the parties in question.” This action formed the nucleus of his extension to the Monroe Doctrine, the “Roosevelt Corollary,” in which he “asserted a right of the United States to intervene to ‘stabilize’ the economic affairs of small states in the Caribbean and Central America if they were unable to pay their international debts.”

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Thomas Edison’s 1910 film “Frankenstein” Coming to DVD


Thomas Edison's Frankenstein

This Thursday marks the 100th anniversary of Thomas Edison’s ground-breaking Frankenstein movie, and it’s finally coming out on DVD in a restored print. Frankenstein’s actors were paid $5 a day and hid the fact that they were slumming in movies.

The restored DVD print of the first ever Frankenstein movie is the work of Frederick C. Wiebel, Jr., who’s also written a book about the making of that film and other early films from 100 years ago.

In a great ABC News article, Wiebel reveals that the film’s special effects are pretty primitive. The most expensive element might be a Frankenstein dummy, which they lit on fire — and then cranked the film backwards, so the dummy appeared to emerge, unscathed, from the flames. Frankenstein director James Searle Dawley learned his craft from Edison’s main director, Edwin Porter, who invented cinematic techniques such as cross-cutting and close-ups. (And who also mentored D.W. Griffith, director of Birth Of A Nation.)

The whole movie is on YouTube — although let’s hope the DVD version is slightly clearer:

Hat tip to