A tour through Building Number 5, the most important structure at Edison's famed Essex, New Jersey, campus, where the inventor tinkered with audiovisual equipment
Welcome to West Orange in Essex, New Jersey, site of Thomas Edison's famed campus for invention.
The good folks at the Library of Congress took dozens of photos of the site, and thousands of other buildings, in an attempt to preserve our architectural and technological history. What you'll see in the gallery below is a selection of the images from the Built in America collection. The exact date of the photos is unknown, but they were compiled beginning in the late 1960s. While there were nine buildings on Edison's campus, I focused here on Building Number 5, which was built in 1887 and housed the machine shop among other experimental facilities. It's the building you see above on the left.
Unlike some other Edison locations, the first floor of the building retained much of its historical flavor through the 20th century. The third floor, by contrast, came to be used largely for storage, serving as a fascinatingly messy archive of audiovisual experimentation.