In Part 1 of the Top 10 Engineering Sites in New York City, we traveled a convenient path around Manhattan. Part 2 covers a few spots that are a bit more out of the way. However, this list only scratches the surface of the rich history of engineering throughout this area.
Thomas Edison, “The Wizard of Menlo Park,” is the reason tourists flock to this destination just outside of New York City every year.
Before arriving in the Big Apple, you likely had to cross through or over New Jersey. Just about an hour from Machine Design’s office is Menlo Park, famous for being the home and laboratory of Thomas Edison. Now a museum and 36 acres of state park land, there are tours for all age brackets that go through the museum, and into the surrounding woods. Edison came to Menlo Park in 1876. The next year, he invented the first way to record and play sounds, i.e. the phonograph, and subsequently received the nickname “The Wizard of Menlo Park.”
This big round ball in the middle of a glass room is not only the Hayden Theatre, but a representation of the sun. As visitors walk around the large ball, there are other representations of planets hanging around it. I believe the spheres in front of the Sun represent Jupiter and Saturn.
Located inside the American Museum of Natural History, the Hayden Planetarium offers shows throughout the day. You can purchase tickets for the planetarium when you buy a ticket for entry into the museum. Travelers tip: This museum has the policy of “pay what you can.” So while I’m all about supporting the cause, if you have a lot of kids or are just short on cash, you can get into this museum for the change in your pocket. Also, this museum can get crowded. You probably should plan on blocking out enough time to walk around the planetarium and the Natural History Museum itself.
Hall of Science & Worlds Fairgrounds
Inside the Hall of Science is an interactive environment where an entire room becomes a large touchscreen. In one nature scape, players can dam or divert water and the plants will respond accordingly to wilt or thrive based on the player’s actions. (Credit: NYSCI, Connected Worlds)
Jumping over to Queens, the Hall of Science is host to the NYC Maker’s Faire, and has many fun things to see and experience, including play areas for kids. However, I checked personally, and they won’t kick adults out if they decide to “play” on the playground, too.
For more information, like the following history of the Hall of Science, go to nysci.org. “The New York Hall of Science was established in 1964 as part of the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and at the time, was one of only a few science museums in existence. Unlike many other institutions, which were closed immediately or soon after the Fair, NYSCI remained open and served as a resource for students until 1979, when it closed for major renovations.
“New York City hired physicist Alan Friedman in 1984 to help with NYSCI’s transition. He oversaw the change from a focus on science fiction to relevance in the lives of everyday people. In 1986, NYSCI re-opened, giving New York City back its only science museum. Plans for the display of an atom were realized as a part of a $400,000 expansion and renovation. NYSCI’s growth and ability to draw crowds was unexpected and led to the city’s pursuit of further funds and expansion (Courtesy of nysci.org).”
Cradle of Aviation
Credit: Michael Gray (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons.
Venture out from New York City to Long Island and you can visit the Cradle of Aviation Museum. This might be far from your hotel, but it has something from everyone. This museum has over 75 air and spacecraft in eight galleries, a full dome theatre with live astronomy and movies, and over 60 consoles with 30 arcade games. I’m not sure what video games have to do with aviation, but they feature games from 1972 to 1999. However, there isn’t much of a discount for kids for the gaming venue ($25 for adults, $21 for children aged 2-12). The museum itself is $15 for adults and $13 for kids or senior citizens.
NYC Transit Museum
This image shows the decommissioned subway station that hosts the NYC Transit Museum (Credit: NYC Transit Museum).
Coming back into the city, Brooklyn hosts the NYC Transit Museum. The Transit Museum is located in a decommissioned subway station— walk down two flights of stairs to get to its entrance. A second, wheelchair-accessible entrance is located on the corner of Schermerhorn and Court Streets. For $10 a person and only $5 for anyone under 18, the museum hosts a large collection of vintage restored train cars and buses, exhibits, and collections from all corners of public transit.
New York City has a lot to offer in engineering tourism, and this list is just a start. Please leave a comment on your favorite engineering places to visit—in or out of NYC—and maybe they’ll be on our next list.