The Larz Anderson Auto Museum in the Boston suburb of Brookline is advertised as America’s oldest automotive museum. Larz and his wife were very early auto enthusiasts, buying their first ‘horseless carriage’ in 1899.
By the 1920s they had collected enough cars they stored them in the carriage house, and opened up their museum.
I had very high hopes for this museum, as it regularly makes the ‘top automotive museum’ lists. When we arrived we were greeted, somewhat, by a lady at the counter who barely had time to interrupt her conversation with her cousin about something to take our money and waive us towards the cars.
This obviously set a tone of disappointment, that fortunately was neutralized by a nice, small collection of some very impressive autos in a display called the Golden Age.
Further back there was a second room with a few more cars, also well displayed.
Another small room had a collection of pedal cars, and other items.
There is some nice automotive art throughout. The lower level had a few more very vintage autos in various states, as well as a bicycle collection.
The Larz Anderson Auto Museum is a nice place – however having seen numerous auto museums across the world I don’t think it rates as one of the premier ones. Perhaps had we attended on one of their numerous special events days where people bring their own classic cars.
Lowell, Massachusetts was an early center of the textile industry in America. It was one of the first real industrial centers, with large cotton mills being built along the waterways.
By diverting the river into numerous canals they could power the machinery for the mills. The canals remain to this day, in various states.
One of the former mills houses a museum that shows the power plant that used the water to generate the power to run the machines.
Because of the flammability of the dust, they used wooden gears that didn’t create sparks.
It is when you go into the main production floor exhibit that you get a true feel for the sheer size of the operation.
While we were there they ran 2 of the looms, which was incredibly loud. One could only imagine what these young ladies went through with 200 of them running at the same time, while working their 12-14 hour, 6 day a week job.
The National Park Service runs a replica trolley around town to shuttle visitors between the sites. A visit to Lowell is educational, and worth the visit if you are in Massachusetts.
The New Hampshire Telephone Museum has a fantastic collection of telephones and associated equipment. Our brief visit there gave me a great collection of photographs that show the simple elegance of the ubiquitous telephone.
A slang for someone who rides the subway a lot is a ‘strap hanger’. The term comes from the early days where there were actual straps that the standing passengers held onto.
This posting illustrates the history of New York City Subway cars and the changes in the seats, and ‘straps’.
Only the very oldest cars have the cloth straps! In addition this BMT Q car has rattan seats that are very cool.
Very early on the cloth straps were replaced with metal ones.
The next version has already moved to the metal bars. I am certain the straps wore out quickly, whereas the bars last forever.
Our next version loses the rattan seats, replaced with these stylish green and yellow stripes. The bars have also evolved to be much larger, so more people can hang on while standing.
This is an IRT R-12 car dating from 1948.
On the IRT R-15 car the bench seating continues, only in solid red, while the bars are still large and protruding. This car dates from 1950.
The first plastic seats make an appearance on an R42. This type of car was most famously used in the 1971 movie The French Connection, where the good guy is in a car chasing the bad guy who stole a train.
Time to board our next car – the ‘straps’ have returned! This car is a R33 ‘World’s Fair’ car, so named as it was released in 1963, the same year the city hosted the World’s Fair.
The last of the straight bench seating makes an appearance.
As we move closer to the modern design, randomized seating.
Finally by the 1970s it looks essentially the same as today’s cars. Not nearly as elegant as the cloth straps and wicker seats, but far more functional and durable.
Time to hang out on the benches in the station and reflect on the changes of the subway over the last 100 years.
Amazingly the Chicago History Museum was founded in 1856, just a few years after the settling of the town. Although twice destroyed by fire (once during the Great Chicago Fire), they still have a vast collection of artifacts celebrating the history of the city.
During our visit to Chess Records I had heard that the History Museum had a nice exhibit on the Chicago Blues, which was our encouragement to go to the History Museum.
In the display is this map showing the amazing collection of recording studios and clubs that featured the blues that have existed in Chicago over the years.
Raeburn Flerlage was a famed photographer of the blues scene from 1959-1971, although his career in music lasted much longer.
His photographs were used for many album covers.
Included in the collection is a copy of what is generally acknowledge as the first blues record of all time, St Louis Blues by W C Handy, from 1925.
The south side of Chicago was the hub of the blues, with Maxwell Street being the epicenter.
All of the blues greats were celebrated here, including Muddy Waters.
In the 1950s record companies were only allowed to have so many records in radio station airplay rotation at one time, so they would just start another record company.
This record of Koko Taylor’s Wang Dang Doodle is on Checker Records, the sister company of Chess Records.
Moving on from the blues display we checked out Chicago – Crossroad of America. This documented Chicago as the transportation hub of the country since the early days of the railroad.
Also on display was one of the original El cars from 1892.
A number of focus displays included one of the infamous gangland activities during prohibition in the 1920s.
Keeping with the infamous Playboy Magazine started in Chicago, as did the original club with the hostess (bunny) outfit on display.
As noted in other postings, Chicago was always mail order center of the country.
Another section celebrated entertainment events in Chicago including the 1893 World’s Fair.
As well as the 1933 Century of Progress World’s Fair.
Finally there was a small section celebrating the professional sports teams of Chicago – baseball’s Cubs and White Sox, football’s Bears, basketball’s Bulls and hockey’s Blackhawks.