Celebrating 175 Years of Innovation

by David Bear
Initial Organizer
Westinghouse Park Second Century Coalition

         George Westinghouse, the pioneering inventor, progressive industrialist, and innovative entrepreneur who was celebrated at the 2019 CASTP Summit, was born on October 6, 1846 in the small town of Central Bridge, New York.

GW headshot portrait

         After serving honorably in the Civil War, the young inventor returned home. In 1865, at age 19, he patented his first invention, a rotary steam engine. Two years later, he designed a “replacer” to guide derailed railroad cars back onto the tracks and a reversible “frog,” a device to switch trains between tracks.  1867 was also the same year he met, wooed, and wed Marguerite Erskine, who was his wife until death did them part nearly five decades later.

          But the Westinghouse invention that revolutionized the railroad industry was the air brake system, which finally gave engineers a quick, reliable, and safe way to stop their trains. Automatic signaling and switching systems that Westinghouse soon developed further improved railroad safety and efficiency.

         Seeking railroad customers to buy his products and a source of steel to build them, he moved to Pittsburgh in 1868 and started the company that would generate his first fortune.  

Solitude full portrait

         Three years later, Westinghouse was prosperous enough to get a birthday surprise for Marguerite.  

         He secretly purchased a house and 5-acre parcel in the then still rural East Liberty Valley along the Pennsylvania Railroad’s mainline, 6 miles east of Pittsburgh, between Murtland Street and Lang Avenue. The location was appropriate, because the railroad was Westinghouse’s primary customer, and it gave him an easy way to get around. It was Marguerite who named the estate Solitude, its trackside location notwithstanding. 

         Over the next decade, as his fortune mushroomed, Westinghouse acquired the adjacent 5-acre parcel and expanded his estate all the way to Thomas Boulevard. The house was greatly enlarged.  Westinghouse had a new stable built, with a private workshop in its basement. To connect his house and his “inner sanctum,” he had a tunnel dug. Brick-lined and eight feet high, the tunnel is over 220 feet long.  

         During the four decades Westinghouse lived and worked at Solitude, numerous notable politicians, industrialists, and scientists were regular visitors, including President William McKinley, Britain’s Lord Kelvin, and Nicola Tesla, the AC electricity theorist, as well as notable neighbors like H. J. Heinz, and H. C. Frick.

         But the most spectacular event that occurred at Solitude was the discovery in 1884 of a large supply of natural gas in three wells Westinghouse had drilled in his own backyard.

         Early in the morning of May 22, the drill bit pierced a large pocket of gas at a depth of 1600 feet. The ensuing gusher spewed gas unchecked for over a week before Westinghouse devised a method to cap the well. 

         At that time, natural gas was considered too dangerous for residential use. Over the next two years, Westinghouse patented dozens of devices for the safe distribution, use, and metering of natural gas. 

         His initial customers included many of the other mansions in the neighborhood.  Westinghouse’s innovations and insights were instrumental in making natural gas an important new source of energy. Its rapid development both resulted cleaner skies over the Pittsburgh area and attracted new industries.

Solitude gas derricks

         Westinghouse assigned these natural gas patents and leases to the Philadelphia Company, an inactive utility he bought, and used it to acquire gas wells throughout western Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

         By 1889, the Philadelphia Company was the nation’s largest natural gas producer. Both Equitable Gas and Duquesne Light derived from assets that were once part of the Philadelphia Company.

         Westinghouse’s creative genius found many outlets in addition to railroads and natural gas. Working with Nicola Tesla, Westinghouse Electric developed systems for generating, transporting, and using alternating current. 

         After the company won contracts to light the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and harness the power of Niagara Falls to generate electricity, AC current was adopted worldwide.

         All told, Westinghouse was granted 361 patents in his own name, an average of one every seven weeks for 42 years.

         Westinghouse was as much a visionary entrepreneur as a gifted inventor. He founded the Westinghouse Air Brake Company in 1869, Union Switch and Signal in 1881, the Philadelphia Company in 1884, Westinghouse Electric in 1886, and more than 50 other companies, many of which still survive. 

         Always a progressive thinker and humanistic employer, Westinghouse was the nation’s first industrialist to implement nine-hour workdays, 55-hour work weeks, and half-holidays on Saturdays. He was a pioneer in providing educational and cultural opportunities for his employees; and paid higher wages to get better workmen and engineers. Westinghouse Electric was the first company to hire a female engineer.

         George Westinghouse was still inventing when he died on March 12, 1914, at age 68. When Marguerite died three months later, their only child, George III, inherited everything. 

         Age 29, this Westinghouse did not live in Pittsburgh nor had much affection for Solitude. Four years later, he sold the property to the Western Pennsylvania Engineers Society, who deeded it to the city on November 30, 1918, for use as a public park and memorial to Westinghouse.

Westinghouse Park entrance - 1884

         In accordance with the deed transfer, the mansion was razed the following summer, and Solitude became Westinghouse Park.

         That is how it has been for more than 100 years.

Westinghouse Park area - 1905

         In 2018, the Westinghouse Park 2nd Century Coalition was organized to help polish and preserve this rare recreational gem for future generations, while also enhancing its ecology, and remembering the remarkable man after whom it is named.

Historic Marker

         In conjunction with the Point Breeze North Development Corporation, the WP2CC has initiated a multi-faceted effort.

          One element is the creation of a comprehensive master plan for the city to follow going forward, a plan that celebrates the park’s assets and is expressive of the communities it serves.

Westinghouse Park foliage Oct 2015

        Another element is Westinghouse Park’s recent certification of eligibility for listing in the national registry of historic places. As we say, “History Happens Here.” 

         We’re also seeking recognition for the park as a certified Arboretum.

         Another element of the effort was initiated with the recent world premiere of The Current War.

         A musical play that tells the story of the epic AC/DC battle between Westinghouse and Edison to develop electricity, it was staged by Quantum Theatre under a big tent raised in Westinghouse Park.

         The Current War was the first event in a year-long recognition of the 175th anniversary of the birth of George Westinghouse this October 6. 

         We call it Westinghouse175.

Current War banner 

         Much more will be coming starting this October and running through the Fall of 2022. 

         To find out more about the park and coming events, visit our website www.westinghousepark.org

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作者:David Bear
初始组织者 I 西屋公园二世纪联盟

译文: 鸿雁

        乔治·威斯汀豪斯 (George Westinghouse) 于1846年10月·6日·出生于纽约中央桥小镇。旅美科协匹兹堡分会CASTP在2019 年全球创新峰会上隆重纪念了这位先驱发明家、进步实业家和创新企业家。

GW headshot portrait

       内战光荣服役后,这位年轻的发明家回到了家乡。1865 年,19 岁的他获得了他的第一项发明专利,即旋转式蒸汽机。两年后,他设计了一种“替换器”来引导脱轨的铁路车辆回到轨道上,并设计了一种“可逆的蛙式装置”,一种在轨道之间切换列车的装置。 1867 年,他遇到了他的妻子玛格丽特·厄斯金, 展开热烈追求并于同年结婚,一直相伴50余年。


        为了寻求铁路客户以及制造这些产品的钢材来源,他于 1868 年举家来到匹兹堡并创办了公司-西屋公司,这是他创业中的第一桶金。

Solitude full portrait


        他在匹兹堡以东 6 英里、Murtland Street 和 Lang Avenue 之间的宾夕法尼亚铁路干线沿线的东自由谷秘密购买了一套房子和 5 英亩的地块。位置很合适,因为铁路是西屋公司的主要客户,这让他可以轻松出行。玛格丽特将庄园命名为“孤独”,尽管它建于路边的位置,听尽车来车往的繁华。

        在接下来的十年里,随着他的财富如雨后春笋般涌现,威斯汀豪斯收购了相邻的 5 英亩地块,并将他的庄园一直扩展到托马斯大道。房子被大大扩大了。他建造了一个新的马棚,其地下室有一个私人实验室车间。为了连接他的房子和他的“内殿”,他请人挖了一条隧道,砖衬,八英尺高,隧道长超过 220 英尺。


        这里最为震撼的是 1884 年在威斯汀豪斯后院钻的三口井中发现了大量天然气。5 月 22 日清晨,钻头在1600英尺深处钻穿了一个大气穴,接踵而至的喷涌气体在一周多的时间里不停地喷出。一周后,在威斯汀豪斯想出一个办法来封井。当时,人们认为天然气对于住宅使用来说太危险了。在接下来的两年中,他为数十项用于天然气安全分配、使用和计量的设备申请了专利。


Solitude gas derricks


        到 1889 年,费城公司是美国最大的天然气生产商。 Equitable Gas 和 Duquesne Light 均源自曾属于费城公司的资产。

        除了铁路和天然气之外,西屋电气的创意天才除了铁路和天然气,还发明了许多领域。威斯汀豪斯与 尼古拉·特斯拉合作开发了用于产生、传输和使用交流电的系统。

        在西屋公司赢得 1893 年芝加哥世界博览会的照明合同并利用尼亚加拉大瀑布的水力发电后,交流电在全球范围内被采用。

        总而言之,威斯汀豪斯以自己的名义获得了 361 项专利,平均每七周获得一项专利,持续了 42 年。

        威斯汀豪斯既是一位有远见的企业家,也是一位天才的发明家。他于 1869 年创立了西屋空气制动公司,1881年创立联合开关和信号公司,1884年创立费城公司,1886 年创立西屋电气以及其他 50 多家公司,其中许多公司至今依然存在各个领域。

        西屋电气始终是一位进步思想家和人性化雇主,是美国第一个实行 9 小时工作日,55 小时工作周和周六半日假期制的实业家。他是为员工提供教育和文化机会的先驱;并支付更高的工资来获得更好的工人和工程师。西屋电气是第一家雇佣女性工程师的公司。

        乔治·威斯汀豪斯于 1914 年 3 月 12 日去世,享年 68 岁,当时他仍在发明。三个月后玛格丽特去世时,他们唯一的孩子乔治三世继承了一切。

        当时这位 29 岁的威斯汀豪斯并不住在匹兹堡,对“孤独”西屋也没有多少感情。四年后,他将这处资产卖给了西宾夕法尼亚工程师协会,后者于 1918 年 11 月 30 日将其转让给该市,修建成公园来纪念威斯汀豪斯。

Westinghouse Park entrance - 1884


Westinghouse Park area - 1905

        2018 年,西屋公园二世纪联盟成立,以帮助为后代打磨和保存这颗罕见的休闲圣地,同时也改善其生态环境,并记住以它命名的杰出人物。

        西屋公园二世纪联盟与 Point Breeze North开发公司合作,发起了多方面的努力。

Historic Marker


Westinghouse Park foliage Oct 2015



        《电流战争》是今年 10 月 6 日乔治·威斯汀豪斯诞辰 175 周年纪念活动中的第一场活动。

        我们称之为 威斯汀豪斯175

Current War banner 

从今年 10 月开始并持续到 2022 年秋季,将会有更多纪念活动。

要了解有关公园和即将举办的活动的更多信息,请访问我们的网站 www.westinghousepark.org

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