When Thomas Edison set foot in Florida in 1885, he did not cause much of a scene. He was 38 years old at that time and his design for dramatically improving on the light bulb has not seen the light of day yet. So, there was not much to his name. When he settled in his winter house in Fort Myers, the local paper who was writing about the new citizens of the city just listed him as an “inventor” and that’s it.
Take note that this was a time when being an inventor was an actual day job, a common profession. There were many people who labeled themselves as inventor during this time so much so that you can imagine that in a small party, there will be at least a handful of guests who are inventors and there would be no awkward responses from them to the question, ‘So, what do you do?’
So when the local newspaper listed Thomas Edison as an “inventor” to the one who wrote it, and to the presumed readers of the paper, he was just that – another inventor. He gained money from reinventing the telegraph system of that time but that wasn’t enough to bring him to stardom. However, we now know that it wasn’t long before people turned their opinion around about him. His version of the light bulb was introduced and he became a sensation and then a legend.
His home for the rest of the year is New Jersey, but when he became ill one time and wanted some place to recover, he discovered Florida and never looked back. He built a house in Fort Myers and it became his home for the winters ever since. He would take trips down south with a former employee turned life-long friend Henry Ford. The both of them and a couple of other friends went on an iconic road-trip together which is a nice story in itself but you got to check another article if you’d like to know more.
Anyhow, even at the success of the newly patented light source, some people were still reluctant to adapt to it. Almost as soon as his light bulb was perfected, he proposed to the city council of Fort Myers to light up the streets but they turned down this proposal because the council thought illuminating the streets would cause sleeping problems to their cows that would affect the milk yield.
Fortunately for Edison, history has judged him kindly and favorably. Today, his home (now a museum) attracts millions of tourists yearly who wanted to take a peek at the life and times of this remarkable man. The museum even survived and was remained quite fine after Hurricane Irma of 2017. The contributions and the possible contributions of Thomas Edison to Florida are revolutionary. He even made the very first industrial factory from his back yard, studying new plants to use as raw material for rubber, so that the US that time would stop relying so much in imports – which he successfully did.
Thomas Edison, the man, the myth, the legend has captivated the awe of the people of his time and beyond. Know more about him when you visit his Winter Estate. But for more information of the rest of Naples, Fl and the surrounding areas, check DivineNaples.com