Wednesday, 3 March 2010

A History of the World in 100 Sheds: No 3 Edison's Black Maria

In 1893 a small shed was built to film the first Edison movies. It was designed by W. K. L. Dickson, the unsung genius behind many of Edison's inventions and patents. The shed was painted black inside and out and became known as 'The Black Maria' as it resembled the police vehicle of the same name.

The shed revolved on a base to follow the sun and featured sliding roof panels to provide continuous overhead sunlight to illuminate the actors.  It became the world's first film studio in which Dickson was the world’s first film director. 

The original has long since burned down, but a reproduction of the structure is located at the Edison National Historic Site (a museum with a preserved laboratory facility) in West Orange, New Jersey.

Edison’s credo:
Be courageous; try everything until something works; and dedicate yourself to your passion, trusting that 'what you are will show in what you do'.

Behind Edison's achievement lies the remarkable figure of Eadweard Muybridge, the brilliant but eccentric photographer who developed a system of analysing movement in a series of still images. Muybridge's innovative camera shed at Palo Alto, California will feature in a future article in this series


  1. I enjoyed to find this article. I like your point of view. Thanks a lot.

  2. Your article is very enjoyable to read, but could you clear up some things like garden sheds history.


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