April 20, 2015

A step back in time

Henry Ford was a complicated man. He was undoubtedly a genius in logistics, managing to create a streamlined process for building an automobile that made it affordable for a growing middle class in America. He had the forethought to pay his workers enough so that they too, could afford to buy one of the cars that they built. He was fascinated by Edison's work with electricity. He was drawn to inventors and innovators.
On the downside of that was his well-documented antisemitism, hatred of unions, and his support for the dubious "science" of eugenics.

But certainly one of the more unusual aspects of Henry Ford is the existence of Greenfield Village. Ford began creating what became Greenfield Village by collecting bits and pieces of American history in buildings and machines while he was still alive. It took an enormous amount of money, of course, but the prescience and ego involved are staggering. He was building an homage to his time on Earth in essence and then enshrined his childhood home.

He also purchased or was gifted and moved to the site a number of buildings belonging to famous people of the time, in addition to generic farmhouses, and a single slave cabin that was "similar to that which George Washington Carver was born in." The Village boasts:
Noah Webster's Connecticut home, the Wright brothers' bicycle shop and home, a replica of Thomas Edison's Menlo Park laboratory complex, Henry Ford's prototype garage where he built the Ford Quadricycle, Harvey Firestone family farm, the Logan County, Illinois courthouse where Abraham Lincoln practiced law, William Holmes McGuffey's birthplace, Luther Burbank's office, Ackley Covered Bridge --a 75' wooden covered bridge built in 1832, Cape Cod Windmill --also known as the Farris mill and considered one of the oldest in America.

Not to mention a train, at least a dozen working model Ts and a merry-go-round --with chickens.

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