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Edison Returns to Schenectady
Edison visited Schenectady for the first time in over 30 years on October 18, 1922. Edison arrived in Schenectady by car the night before (a trip that required 5 stops for tire changes). Edison spent the night at the home of Edwin W. Rice, Jr., recently retired as GE president.
The next morning Edison visited General Electric’s Schenectady Works, touring the GE Research Laboratory. Edison visited with Willis Whitney, the first director of the laboratory, and William Coolidge and Irving Langmuir. Langmuir and Coolidge were responsible for the two greatest improvements to Edison’s lamp, the ductile tungsten filament and the gas-filled lamp.
After visiting the laboratory, Edison met with Charles Steinmetz, GE’s chief engineer. The two men and Edison’s party toured GE’s turbine and generator production facilities. They then witnessed a demonstration of Steinmetz’s million-volt lightning machine.
After visiting with Steinmetz, the two drove the main avenue of the GE plant to a luncheon held in Edison’s honor. Guests included GE VIPs and members of the Edison Pioneers who had worked in Schenectady while Edison owned the plant from 1886-1892.
At the conclusion of the luncheon, Edison greeted each of his former workers. A plaque was also dedicated in Edison’s honor, made by GE porcelain specialist Julius Pardi. A film crew captured Edison’s visit on film and released it as an educational film the following year.