The crash of the Baker Electric Torpedo (Commentary)
The Staten Island Advance is a daily newspaper published in the borough of Staten Island in New York City. The only daily newspaper published in the borough, and the only borough to have its own major daily paper, it covers news of local and community interest, including borough politics. As of April 25, 2007, Monday-Friday circulation was down 3.9% from the previous year, to 59,461. Sunday dropped 4.6% to 73,203.
http://www.silive.com/opinion/columns/i ... ectri.html
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Long before it acquired its modern-day name, the Staten Island street we know as Hylan Boulevard had gained a fearsome reputation as a place where motorists tested their moxie and daring in a quest for fame and the ultimate speed thrill.
At a time when internal combustion engines were noisy, dirty, sputtering, reluctant, unreliable and downright dangerous (sorta like today...), the Cleveland-based Baker Motor Vehicle Company’s highly regarded electric cars seemed to hold a winning hand.
They started instantly, without employing a "knuckle-buster" crank, and stopped when you wanted them to. They were simple, quiet, durable, and passengers were not required to share the perils of the road with a tank full of highly flammable fuel.
One of the first motor vehicles in the White House fleet was a Baker electric.
The reputation of the Baker electrics was further burnished when the already-legendary American inventive genius Thomas Alva Edison chose one as his first car. It cost $850 — a sum that would be more than $20,000 in today’s currency.
Perhaps the most confounding drawback of electric cars has always been their batteries, which limited the vehicles’ range while adding considerable weight. And batteries of the day were also highly vulnerable to damage from jostling and jarring on the rutted, potholed roads.
The innovative 3,100-pound car carried two people — the driver and an electrician/brakeman. Its power plant, a 14-horsepower Elwell-Parker electric motor, was energized by a weighty bank of 11 of the nickel-iron batteries that had emerged from Edison’s lab only months earlier.
A 3100-pound vehicle for two as "innovative".
News reports from the day estimated that upwards of 20,000 people — nearly a third the number of Staten Island residents at the time— were on hand to watch the proceedings.
Once, as Baker was flying along a packed-sand beach in one of his racers, all of the wheels suddenly and almost simultaneously came off, sending him sledding along on the car’s belly.
“Electric Baker” crashed his cars so frequently that the moniker “Bad Luck Baker” began to follow him.
Ohhh... NEVer done THAT.
Includes a paragraph: AN EERIE SILENCE
In an ironic twist, the street that hosted the ill-fated 1902 speed contest was, in 1940, named Hylan Boulevard, in honor of former New York City Mayor John Francis Hylan.
“Red Mike,” as Hylan was known, achieved small notoriety as a speeder, of sorts. He became mayor in 1918, some years after being fired from a job as a locomotive engineer for driving the train too fast.
Hehe... Driving "too fast"...