Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe in 1954. Image via Wikimedia Commons
It’s no secret that since its inception, New York City has been the epitome of the American melting pot. Whether it was entered through the shores of Ellis Island, as the destination for migrants from the Southern Hemisphere, or even within the U.S. borders themselves, for generations, New York City has been the place where people from all walks of life have come together in pockets of community and havens of collaboration. As a result, it’s really no surprise that many famous figures in history found not only inspiration and a place to call home, but sometimes their best friends in New York City. A wide berth of people, including world-renown poets, artists, authors, mobsters, inventors, and even Presidents, formed close relationships in New York City. Here’s a list of how some historical figures and their equally formidable friends were perpetuated in New York City.
10. Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla
Mark Twain during Nikola Tesla’s human conduction experiment, with Tesla looking on in the background. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
An unlikely historical pairing, but quite the duo nonetheless, is Mark Twain and Austrian-Empire-born inventor/genius Nikola Tesla. After meeting on the New York City social scene during the Gilded Age, the two naturally inquisitive men formed an early bond. What started out as a simple letter exchange developed into a deep friendship involving quite a few home visits and hang out sessions to Tesla’s residence at the Waldorf Astoria and Tesla’s various labs.
In fact, as seen in a scientific article on Tesla’s work written back in 1895, a part of the research from Tesla’s early 1890’s electricity research required test subjects. He wanted to show the human body as a conductor of electricity, and the photographic evidence from that research features none other than Twain as the face in the images. Likewise, Tesla would assist Twain as well, reportedly even helping the writer get over a bad case of constipation thanks to one of Tesla’s inventions he called the “earthquake machine” (aka, a high frequency oscillator).
“I had hardly completed my course at the Real Gymnasium when I was prostrated with a dangerous illness or rather, a score of them, and my condition became to desperate that I was given up by physicians. One day, I was handed a few volumes of new literature unlike anything I had read before and so captivating as make me utterly forget my hopeless state. They were the earlier works of mark Twain and to them might have been due to miraculous recovery which followed. Twenty-five years later, when I met Mr. Celemens and we formed a friendship between us I told him of the experience and was amazed to see that great man of laughter burst into tears.”