So, I recently read the fascinating book “In the Kingdom of Ice” by Hampton Sides. It was about the attempt by the USS Jeannette to reach the North Pole in 1879. One moment in history which I found very interesting is captured in the beginning of Chapter 6. The chapter starts out describing the events of the first week of July 1876 in Philadelphia. It was America’s 100th birthday and Philadelphia was hosting a world’s fair, called the Centennial Exhibition. For those of you familiar with the Philadelphia area, it took place on nearly 400 acres in Fairmount Park, across the Schuylkill River. It was the first time America hosted a world expo and it was attended by nearly ten million people over that summer.
Some of the new inventions were: the Remington Typewriter, a complicated stringed device called a Calculating Machine and “a curious gizmo that a bearded Scotsman named Alexander Graham Bell was calling his “telephone””. Bell read from a Shakespeare play at one end of the hall and people at the other end could hear Bells’ voice. Emperor Dom Pedro of Brazil said, “My God, it talks!”.
Also present were young inventors, George Westinghouse, George Eastman and Thomas Edison. At the Japanese Pavilion they featured a fast growing pea plant called Kudzu. This was also where Americans were first introduced to Heinz Ketchup, Hires Root Beer and bananas. The bananas were served in foil with a fork.
I like reading historical novels that involve adventure and the human struggle against the odds and I highly recommend “In the Kingdom of Ice”. It is an amazing struggle against virtually impossible odds.