Meet John P. Holland, photographed emerging from the hatch of his invention, the USS
Holland submarine. Born on the Irish coast in 1841, he had a fascination with both
science and sea travel. At a young age, he became convinced that underwater vehicles
could be useful in naval warfare. He developed his first draft for a submarine design in
1859. He later moved to the United States and submitted his design to the US Navy,
which initially rejected it as a "fantastic scheme of a civilian landsman." Undaunted and
supported by funds from the Fenian Movement, a secret revolutionary society organized
in Ireland and the United States to achieve Irish independence from England, John
continued his efforts. He eventually launched his first submarine - the Holland Number 1
- in 1877 on the Passaic River in New Jersey. Only 14 feet long and powered by a 4
horsepower engine, this model made several successful dives. He went on to produce
larger versions with modifications and revisions. Early in 1900 the U.S. Navy purchased
the Holland Number 6 for $150,000 and on October 12, 1900 commissioned it-- the first
United States Navy submarine. Holland died in 1914 with little recognition for his work,
but is now widely recognized as the inventor of the modern submarine.
Photo Credits:
TITLE: [John P. Holland, head-and-shoulders portrait, climbing up hatch of his
invention, the USS Holland submarine]
CREATED/PUBLISHED: [1961, from a photograph taken between 1898 and 1914]
Photograph from General Dynamics Corporation.
No. P600-1.
New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection (Library of
REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington,
D.C. 20540 USA
DIGITAL ID: (b&w film copy neg.) cph 3c21244
Man has long been fascinated with birds and their ability to fly. Before the Wright
Brothers achieved their first heavier-than-air controlled flight in 1903, hundreds of men
and women attempted to fly in gliders, airships, balloons and other fantastic innovations.
As early as the 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci studied the flight and wing structure of
birds. His detailed design of a human-powered ornithopter - an aircraft deriving it’s thrust
and lift from flapping wings - was based on these studies. Although he never actually
flew the machines he designed, his ideas were replicated and modified throughout the
next four centuries. In 1871, Alphonse Penaud successfully flew a rubber-powered model
ornithopter - the Planophore - for a distance of 181 feet in 11 seconds. Since then, many
other inventors have developed ornithopters. This turn-of-the-century photograph
pictures Arnold Coblitz in his ornithopter.
Photo Credits:
TITLE: Arnold Coblitz in ornithopter in Czechoslovakia
CREATED/PUBLISHED: [no date recorded on caption card]
This record contains unverified, old data from caption card, with subsequent revisions.
REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington,
D.C. 20540 USA
DIGITAL ID: (b&w film copy neg.) cph 3a18030
Skyscrapers could not have been built without Elisha Graves Otis's invention. Any
guesses as to what that was? Otis opened a small factory on the banks of the Hudson
River in Yonkers, New York, on September 20, 1853, to make elevators, fully equipped
with his newly invented automatic safety device. Having received an order for two freight
elevators with the new device, Otis abandoned his plans to join the California Gold Rush.
But after six months, he hadn't received a second order. What do you think he did?
Otis staged a public demonstration. He climbed on top of his elevator in New York's
Crystal Palace exhibition, and while hoisted to the ceiling, ordered the rope cut. Seeing
how his safety brake kept him from falling, people realized the importance of his
invention. Though in 1856, Otis's sales totaled just 27 elevators, his performance
launched the passenger elevator industry. The world's first safety elevator for passengers,
installed in 1857 in a New York store, rose at a speed of 40 feet per minute. How does
that compare to today's elevators?
Today the elevators in Chicago's 1,127-foot John Hancock Center soar upward at 1,800
feet per minute! With the introduction of steel frame construction, the skyscraper became
possible. The 10-story Home Insurance Building in Chicago, built in 1885, was
considered the world's first tall building, requiring four elevators. The 1913 Woolworth
Building (792 feet) boasted 26 elevators; the 1931 Empire State Building (1,250 feet)
required 58. With new and taller buildings, business at the Otis Elevator Company, later
run by Otis's sons, rose steadily.
Photo Credits:
TITLE: Lord & Taylor, business in West Hartford, Connecticut. Elevator and
Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., photographer.
PART OF: Gottscho-Schleisner Collection (Library of Congress)
REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington,
D.C. 20540 USA
DIGITAL ID: (intermediary roll film) gsc 5a22113 urn:hdl:loc.pnp/gsc.5a22113
Have you ever heard of Elwood Haynes? Well, maybe you have heard of some of his
inventions: stainless steel, the thermostat, and the horseless carriage.
Born in Portland, Indiana, in 1852, Elwood Haynes invented one of the first successful
gasoline-powered automobiles. He also invented stainless steel, the thermostat used in
houses, and many other items. As a young boy, Haynes was curious about how things
worked. When he was 12 he read his sister's college chemistry book, and by 15 he was
experimenting with alloys, metallic substances made of two or more elements.
In 1886, natural gas was found in Haynes's hometown. After this discovery he organized
a company to supply it to the town. In 1893, he purchased a gasoline-powered engine and
designed a "horseless carriage," or auto. Haynes then went on to invent the muffler and
different metal alloys. Specifically, he invented satellite alloy, which may be his most
important invention. This metal alloy was the first step in the development of a series of
space-age alloys.
Photo Credits:
Title: Elwood Haynes in his first car in 1894
REPOSITORY: "Elwood Haynes in his first car in 1894." Photo courtesy of the Elwood
Haynes Museum Archives, for "Elwood Haynes," an Indiana Local Legacies project
Located in AMERICA’s LIBRARY on the Library of Congress website: