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Monday, March 28, 2016

Minerva Parker Nichols - First American Woman to Practice Architecture Independently

Drawing of Minerva Parker Nichols, 1890
Source: Wikipedia
Today, for Women's History Month, I am featuring Minerva Parker Nichols.

Margaret (Molly) Lester, an architectural historian and preservation planner, wrote her master's thesis on Minerva Parker Nichols and now has a website dedicated entirely to preserving Minerva Parker Nichols' contributions to architecture.

Lester states that Minerva Parker Nichols was born on May 14, 1862. After years of school at the Philadelphia Normal Art School and the Franklin Institute Drawing School, she began practicing architecture in 1886 in the firm of Edwin W. Thorne. She worked there less than three years, then in 1888 she opened her own office on Arch Street, thus becoming the first woman in America to practice architecture independently, in an architecture firm run completely by a woman.

Minerva Parker Nichols was well respected in her time and designed many beautiful buildings.

Cottage for Mr. Isaac Ashmead Designed by Minerva Parker Nichols; Wyncote Heights, Jenkintown PA; May 1888.
Pen-y-Bryn, Home of Irwin N. Megargee, Gladwyne; Designed by Minerva Parker Nichols in 1892.
Source: The Lower Merion Historical Society
The New Century Club for Women in Philadelphia designed by Minerva Parker Nichols in 1893.
Source: Wikipedia
Minerva Parker Nichols was awarded the design for the Women’s Pavilion, the Queen Isabella Building, for the World's Fair in 1891.

The Isabella Pavilion designed by Minerva Parker Nichols.
Source: Mary Pepchinski
Below is the announcement of her winning design in 1891:

The Times, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 13, 1891, Page 9.




The Brilliant Philadelphia Artist Who Will Design the Queen Isabella Building for the World’s Fair--Her Work in Her Profession-- Perseverance and Natural Aptitude Have Won the Way for Her.

Truly it is a glorious thing to live in these times and be a woman. The scope of her work was never so high, so broad nor so untrammeled as it is to-day. It is now conceded by all just, unbiased, well-informed people that woman's sphere is in whatever place her talents provide for her. Men, as a rule, are broader minded and more lenient in their judgment, in regard to this stepping aside from the ordinary pursuits, than are women, the majority of whom still cling to the traditions of their grandmothers, that if a woman do anything besides trade at a counter, nurse a baby or prink before a mirror, she must be unwomanly; if she give the bulk of her attention to letters she, of course, becomes a slovely, unlovely literary crank and an altogether undesirable wife or sweetheart; or, if she learn a trade, especially one which up to that time has been monopolized by men, then she is judged coarse, vulgar and unsexed.

Such prejudice in these days can only come from ignorance. Women do not inform themselves in regard to what women are doing outside of the social world. We are all well-posted in regard to our four hundred, their fetes, their personal attractions, their coaches, coin and coquetry--yea, even to the color and texture of their underwear! All the details of their every-day life are read with avidity.

But why not, through the same medium, get acquainted with our bright, gifted women of a lesser number, who have taken advantage of the new dispensation by fitting themselves for higher duties and fields of labor spread out before them--women who have illustrated anew the fundamental law that success in any direction is not a matter of sex but of character and endowment? Of such women Philadelphia has her full quota, women of whom any city would be boastful, and one in particular whom the entire world--the women world especially--will soon delight to honor. Until it was announced throughout the length and breadth of the land that Miss Minerva Parker, of Philadelphia, had achieved the distinction of being selected as designer of the Queen Isabella pavilion for the World’s Fair, I wonder how many women in her own city knew of her?

I am sure it will be a revelation to many even yet to learn that she is the first woman to enter the profession of architecture and that she at this time only has one rival--Mrs. Louisa Bethune, of Rochester, N. Y., whose set of school plans exhibited at the last Paris exposition were highly recommended.

Minerva Parker

If we can judge by the success that has crowned the serious efforts of Miss Parker it would seem that architecture is indisputably a work for women. Like all innovators she has had many obstacles to overcome, before reaching her present high position, but the fact of her being a woman, she says, has never in anyway handicapped her while pursuing her line of work. On the contrary she reports only words of encouragement and good fellowship both from the public and her fellow architects, while on the part of builders and mechanics there has seemed to be an added care in executing the work called for by her plans and specifications.

Neither has she found her present dress (which I assure you is a la mode from bonnet to boot) a hindrance to the free and uninterrupted use of brain and limb, but says of the present fashions that owing to the unwelcome presence of too many stiffening rods, she is prepared to elect for a more untrammeled form of garment, but that it is in her opinion largely a matter of taste and judgment how a business woman should dress and that our emancipation in this as in every other department of life rests within our own hands and is not a matter for legislative enactment.

Her chief obstacle, she says, has been that of receiving thorough technical architectural training in this country, a difficulty which men experience as well. Undoubtedly Miss Parker inherited the taste and talent for her work, her maternal grandfather having been an architect and shipbuilder, and her mother, as she grew up, having worked with him and become a good, practical carpenter.

She believes the student must have natural talent and that no amount of study can make up for lack of it. She expresses surprise that anyone would think of taking up the work without adequate preparation, architecture being a business to be learned and thoroughly mastered like any other, and the training as important as that of a doctor and, in Miss Parker's opinion, far more than that of a lawyer.

After making a special study of industrial art modeling, she entered an architect’s office, just as a young man would have done, and has been studying and practicing for twelve years. As a preparatory course there must be a high school or college education; a thorough knowledge of mechanical and free hand drawing, construction, geometry, perspective, historic ornament, in short, a four years' course--the Boston School of Technology or Columbia being the best places for the preparation.

Notwithstanding Miss Parker's own success she does not strongly recommend her profession as a means of livelihood for women, but naively remarks: "I think it is like marriage, there are so many obstacles in the way I should advise them to keep out, but if they have sufficient love and courage to attempt it, and will fit themselves properly for the work, then I should be only too glad to extend the hand of fellowship to such follow-workers."

Any one having talked with Miss Parker and learned of the enormous amount of work done by her could hardly imagine her lacking courage in anything, yet how else account for the state of "single blessedness?" In addition to her demonstrated ability to support a husband, she is a gifted conversationalist and endowed with personal graces much beyond the ordinary, hence the inference that Miss Parker prefers her profession to a husband. Though no knight of the camera has ever been able to transfer the likeness to cardboard, yet there remains a remarkable resemblance both in face and figure between Miss Parker and Mrs. Cleveland. This likeness is so pronounced that more than once people familiar with the ex-President's beautiful wife have mistaken Miss Parker for her.

Though still under thirty our fair architect looks much younger. She has been grimly amused by paragraphers continuously publishing her as about twenty-two and invariably crippling this statement with another to the effect, her father fell fighting in defense of his country in the late Rebellion!

The New Century Clubhouse

Miss Parker makes domestic architecture a specialty, and when we consider this particular field of work, its immense resources, its magnificent possibilities, its peculiar adaptability to woman, the wonder grows that it had not been entered long before Miss Parker determined to turn her attention to designing beautiful homes.

In addition to a number of private residences in and about our own city now being builded under her own supervision, she has in charge our women’s club building, the New Century Club House at Twelfth and Sansom, a splendid residence at Somerton, Pa., for Mrs. Rachel Foster Averyes, and a large three-story house of stone for the land company of Overbrook, Pa.

Ever since the award of the design for the Women’s Pavilion at the Columbian Exposition, every spare moment has been devoted to the study of Spanish architecture, and now her plans are nearly perfected. When completed the building will be two stories high, with Spanish tile roof, and an interior fitted with apartments for the accommodation of women, care of children during a visit, medical, press and legal departments, ministers’ rooms, parlors for notables, musicians, stenographers, architects, designers, milliners, tailors and representatives of every trade and industry engaged in by women. Also writing and reception rooms and an emergency department, with trained nurses and remedies at hand, as well as physicians, a sewing room and a children’s day nursery with attendants on hand in case of need. The exact size of the structure is not given yet, but its main entrance will be of an imposing nature, ornamented by a grand statue of Queen Isabella of Spain, by that gifted sculptress, Miss Hosmer.

In the contemplation of Miss Parker have we not as Philadelphians, and more especially as women, much then of which to be proud? And more than anything else do not her achievements and does not the courtesy accorded her by fellow workers afford convincing proof that a position is waiting for every woman who will make herself capable of filling it?


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Indianapolis 500 History: Ray Harroun and the Marmon "Wasp"

Sunday, May 29, 2016, is the 100th running of the Indy 500. Gates open at 6am and the race will start at 12:20pm. Spectators will see 200 laps of pure speed, adrenaline and drama.

If you want to see some awesome cars, the Indy 500 cars are spectacular. In looking at all 100 winning cars recently, I became enamoured with the car driven to victory by Ray Harroun in the first Indy 500...the Marmon "Wasp."

Ray Harroun in the Marmon "Wasp" after the first Indy 500 in 1911.

Ray Harroun, a talented engineer, designed his six-cylinder car to be aerodynamic that it appeared to actually have a wasp's stinger. His car sat low to the track so as not to flip over during the race. Harroun also bolted a mirror in front of his face so he could dispense with the human rear-view-mirror and drive alone, thus inventing the all-important rear-view mirror we depend on today. People were quite upset by Harroun's lack of "mechanician."

The Marmon "Wasp," Winner of the 1911 Indy 500
According to, Harroun was an engineer for the Marmon Motor Car Company. He designed the "Wasp," which he named for its black and yellow paint job. I'm sure the pointed tail he designed to reduce air drag influenced the name as well.

Harroun won the 1911 Indy 500 in 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 8 seconds. His average speed was 74.6 mph. I imagine that speed was quite harrowing in those days, however I can't help but think about it as I drive I-35 at 75 mph getting passed by soccer dads and moms late for games.

Ray Harroun in the Marmon "Wasp" during the 1911 Indy 500
Check out the video footage of the 1911 Indy 500 below. You'll see smoke billowing from the vehicles. This was from the castor oil used in the fuel. The longer the race went on, the more oil coated the bricks on the speedway and driving became more treacherous.

You can purchase tickets to see the 100th running of the Indy 500 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway website.

Below are two newspaper articles from the Indianapolis Star. The first highlights the Harroun and his "Wasp," the second is the Indy 500 race wrap-up.

The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, Indiana, Sunday, May 14, 1911, Page 38.

All Is in Readiness for Memorial Day Auto Races


Pilots Give Speedway Race Atmosphere While Tuning Motors for big Race.


Note Minor Details in Construction of Fast Cars Built for Supreme Speed Test

Nearer and nearer draws the day for the biggest automobile race of 1911--the 500-mile international sweepstakes event at the Speedway Memorial day. Every day the grand stand is dotted with rail birds, who sit through the afternoons and watch the drivers putting their cars through their paces, testing out tires, different lubricating oils, their magnetos and other parts of the car that are vitally concerned in the driving of a race of five centuries.

One of the most amusing things at the track while the practice is being held is the gossip in the grand stand. The motor fans and the motorwise mingle and exchange ideas. One topic that has excited much comment in the last week is the construction of Ray Harroun's Marmon "Wasp." Harroun is wrapped up in this steel monster, and when he unleashes his engine in the big race he is going to show some unexpected speed. The lines of the Wasp are familiar to all the followers of the game, and among the records that have been won by the "Bedouin Pilot" many of them have been captured by this same car.


The question arises, "Why does the Wasp have a tail?"

Among the reasons for this freak construction the principal one is that it offers less resistance to the air than the usual construction. To understand what this resistance is one has only to sit beside a driver and make one lap on the track. As the car moves forward the air directly in front forms a buffer to the air, and as the car hurtles through space at high speed it forms almost a vacuum behind it.

In the "Wasp" the tail acts as a guide to the air which flows backward over the car. This idea has been followed out in all the details of construction. The rear axle has a miniature tail bolted on, the drip pan is shaped off and narrowed toward the rear and the car offers much less resistance to the atmosphere. Harroun sits low in the car behind the wheel and the steering apparatus is brought to the center by a system of cogs. The air as it passes over the car does not catch Harroun full in the face and he will be able to get more power out of his engine for the same number of revolutions than the fellow who drives a car of the usual construction. Another point in his favor is the fact that the car is hung very low and this keeps it much steadier and as he speeds around the track the "Wasp" seems to almost stick to the track.

Harroun will have the most unique mechanician in the race. This trusty helper is dumb, it is always looking backward watching for a car coming up fast, and it will always be on the job. Harroun has bolted a mirror directly in front of his face and as he will ride alone the men around the pits have dubbed the looking glass the dumb mechanician. The idea of getting away from the atmospheric resistance is again considered and the mirror with its triangular case will also act as a break to the wind and let Harroun ride without any discomfort in the long grind.

With the race but two weeks away, by the end of this week almost every driver entered will be on the track. Already the cars are giving the Speedway the atmosphere of a race, with from four to six cars on the track all the time. Harry Grant is waking the echoes with the exhaust of his black Alco--twice winner of the Vanderbilt; Bruce Brown is pushing his big red Fiat around the track at high speed; Louis Disbrow has his fiery red practice Pope-Hartford at the track; Arthur Chevrolet is tuning his big white buick "100," Aitken, Zengle, Wilcox, Merz and Beck are alternating at the wheel of the blue Nationals; Joe Dawson and Ray Harroun are working out the pair of Marmons; Harry Knight has been on the track with his Wescott "Six" and the two McFarlan cars from Connersville have also contributed to the racing atmosphere. Lewis Strang, veteran of many a race, a pilot who has guided both foreign and American made machines to victory, has been working out with his team of Case cars of which "Looie" is team captain. Strang has Joe Jagersburger and Will Jones as teammates in the big event and the light cars with the wind splitting radiaters have been nosing their way around the track at a merry gait. Gil Anderson in his Stutz, and Will Turner in his Amplex have also taken the opportunity to work out and the past week has seen eighteen cars at work on the track.


It would seem to the layman that the drivers were a jealous lot and given to knocking, but this is not true. The amount of good nature that exists between the different camps, the drivers and the pitmen is surprising. They all stand ready to help the other fellow if he needs assistance and these men, who in following their vocation must face death at every turn of the wheel, are bubbling over with good nature. A grouch would not last long in a racing camp, for if he did not show a pleasant smile once in a while he would be treated to a slight surprise and whithout a doubt he would soon be wearing a smile even if smiling at his own discomfiture.

One of the features of the work at the track that shows how the drivers work together is the rival ball clubs that have been formed. Dr. Wadsworth Warren came to the track early last week and a day later had two nines lined up, and when the drivers tire of their dizzy practice stunts, they turn to smiting the horsehide.

The entries have closed for the big derby, and now the fans are beginning to study the dope sheet, with the past performances of the drivers and cars and the possible winners of the big cash prizes which are hung up.

In the last hour of the time for getting in, Bob Burman, world's speed king, shot his entry to the management and beat the gate by but a few minutes, nominating a 521-cubic-inch Benz for the race. It would be a strange coincidence if the last man to enter would be the first man to finish and carry off the honors, but Burman is an adept at making strange things materialize and there is some chance, in fact more of a chance than the average speed fans realize.


Burman broke Barney Oldfield's world's mark on the Florida beach on his twenty-seventh birthday and if he would score in the big derby--well, to look over the dope sheet, the rail-birds are predicting something erratic and he may put it over on the big day. If it is done, and the grey Benz which has felt his trusty hand flies by the stand first, Burman will do it alone, and the dopesters can score one in the driving column, because Burman has declared that he alone will pilot the big racer through the five hundred long miles of battle.

No relief drivers will help Burman out, nor mar his chances for victory and the fight against the classy field will be made by none but the man who has held the steering wheel of the fastest car in the world, Bruce-Brown, grand prize winner, and the most of the rest will have alternates, but Burman has stated that he will trust no one at the wheel of his car in this contest and that every mile will be driven with the same hand at the wheel.

This announcement will probably cause comment in the camps of those who are at present training at the course, and, while the move may not be welcomed as wise by the other entries, the speed king has made this decision and will stick to it. Bob Burman will drive in the 500 mile race without alternates, and every inch of the way will be carefully traveled with but one object, and what to win.


In preparation for the race Fred Belcher with his six-cylinder Knox stock car has been driving some very fast and exciting early morning tryouts. Not far from Springfield, Mass., are several stretches of very good state road, deserted in the early morning hours, save for an occassional milk wagon. Here the powerful Knox has been clocked at more than ninety-five miles an hour and shows promise of higher speed on the better surface of the Speedway track after the present limbering up process.

An exciting episode took place the other morning on a curve which had a loose gravel surface. In taking the corner at well over sixty miles an hour the car rolled on the gravel and slid toward the bank. Belcher showed his lightning judgment by heading directly up the bank, around a tree and down on the road again with undiminished speed, averting a bad spill while still keeping up his clocked time.

These instantaneous flashes of what to do at the critical moment mark the successful driver and greatly help toward bringing in the winning car.

The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, Indiana, Wednesday, May 31, 1911, Pages 1 and 13.



Unmuffled Exhausts Raise Great
Clouds as Noisy Autos Bound
Into Contest.


Troubles Begin Early in Race and
Cars Are Gradually Eliminated
by Accidents.


Promptly at five minutes before 10 o'clock yesterday morning the first of a series of aerial bombs announced to the gathering throng that the world's greatest motor car speed contest was about to begin. Instantly the array of machines proudly lined across the track at intervals of several hundred feet became animated.

The unmuffled exhausts began to pour forth smoke as the mechanics turned the great motors over. President Carl G. Fisher and his partner, James A. Allison, toed the starting line with their roadster, and at a given signal they rolled forward, the racing cars keeping in straight lines back of them.

They rolled around the track gathering speed slowly until they came into the stretch on what was to be the real start of the grueling 500-mile grind. As the caravan neared the wire, Fisher swept to one side, and the machines, tugging impatiently at the enforced leash, were unloosened.

The drivers gave more gas, and out of the haze that still lingered over the track, despite the brisk breeze, shot a big blue National. Dashing "Howdy" Wilcox whipped his big craft to the front and set the pace for the first lap of the 200 that was to end with Ray Harroun and his Marmon "Wasp" a victor after the bitterest, most brilliant, most thrilling motor spectacle on record.

Wilcox swept into the home stretch on his first real lap of the race with the big dark gray Mercedes thundering at terrific speed close behind. The Knox, driven by Belcher, followed, and then came the others in an almost unintelligible mass.


Harroun kept his Marmon well toward the rear in the first few rounds over the glistening bricks. Spencer Wishart, the daring amateur from New York, at the wheel of his own car, set the pace and turned the first twenty miles in 15.06.

Both the Mercedes and Knox suffered fire trouble and alternated at the pace making. At thirty miles, the Knox was leading, covering the distance in 25.07. Wilcox was still hurtling the National onward at a terrific clip and running a close second. The Fiats and Simplex cars roared after them, with Harroun, Burman and Merz bringing up the rear.

In the thirteenth lap came the first accident. The mankiller Amplex, with a gory practice record, turned over and killed Greiner's mechanician, Dickson, and injured the spectacular Chicago boy, who has earned a reputation for clever and fearless driving.

The horror of the accident stole upon the crowd, and the thousands gazed as if hypnotized upon the endless chain of roaring cars that sped by the grand stand at such terrific speed. Tire troubles began to be more and more in evidence, and the pit scenes divided the attention of the crowd with the flying cars.

David Bruce-Brown, the young millionaire sportsman from New York, at the wheel of the chubby Fiat, took the lead in the nineteenth lap. De Palma was shoving his big Simplex along in second place at high speed, and Johnny Aitken got to going well with the National pulled into third place.

The Chevrolet buick became noticeable for its appetite for tires early in the conflict. Dishrow suffered a delay in the sixty-seventh mile due to ignition trouble, but it was not until the seventieth mile that the first formidable contestant bowed to the serious misfortune of a broken crank shaft. The powerful Fiat suffered this stroke of ill luck, and the driver, little Caleb Bragg, was forced to view the contest from the side lines with all hope of participation in the rich prize money gone.

Winner of 500-Mile Race and His Car
Bragg's teammate, Bruce-Brown, continued to set the pace, however, with his Fiat, and he led the caravan of speed creations at a terrific pace for mile after mile. The Simplex, Lozier and Marmon began to crowd up, and it became more evident that some high-powered car would get the lion's share of the honors, rather than a lower-powered car, since it would survive the wrecks of its faster-stepping competitors.


Although Bruce-Brown set a fast pace, his time did not approach the records up to 100 miles made by Tetzlaff in a match race on the Los Angeles Motordrome some weeks ago. At 150 miles, However, Brown's Fiat registered 1 59.12 on the recording tape, which clipped two seconds from the best previous time for this distance, made by Joe Dawson in a Marmon at Atlanta.

Griener's accident with the Amplex occurred on the back stretch, and it was not until the 125th mile that the grand stand crowd was given a real thrill. Coming to the bridge over the stretch, Disbrow's Pope Hummer skidded, and Teddy Tetzlaff crashed into the Pope Special.

For a few minutes another tragedy was expected by the breathless crowd. The Lozier mechanician was injured rather badly, but the worst blow to Tetzlaff and Disbrow was the fact that their cars were permanently disabled and they were forced to withdraw.

The 128th mile was the finish for Harry Grant and the black Alco, two-time winner of the Vanderbilt Cup and regarded as one of the best individual bets in the whole field. As Grant approached the bridge near the stand he was seen to swerve off the course and stop. A broken crankshaft was the disaster that brought anguish to the popular Alco pilot.

About the same time the Buick driven by Basie suffered a similar injury, and by the time Brown's Fiat had turned the 180th mile six cars had been eliminated.

Cyrus Patschke, the well-known twenty-four-hour race driver and relief pilot for Harroun, took the wheel of the Wasp in the sixty-third lap. Although he had never driven a Marmon but once or twice in his life, he and the car made friends rapidly. Patschke took the Marmon in second position as Bruce-Brown was still leading with the Fiat.


The "Wasp" responded gallantly to Patschke's call for more speed, and the long yellow car was leading at 190 miles. At the 200-mile mark Patschke was traveling just one second slower than the record for that distance. He maintained the lead, and Brown seesawed with De Palma and the Fiat for second position.

In the eighty-first lap Eddie Hearne's car, with Parker, the relief man driving, broke a steering knuckle, and it was only by some clever work that an accident was avoided in the main stretch. Hearne started to work on the machine and entered the race later, but the delay put him hopelessly out of it.

In the 240th mile Patschke flashed by with Bruce-Brown in close pursuit and the throng was settling down to the humdrum of a speed procession when Joe Jagersberger broke on to the stage in the main stretch with a Case car running wild. A broken steering knuckle caused him to lose control of the car.

He was near the end of the parade, and had a clear field. He was not going at top speed and wabbled back and forth without apparent danger. Suddenly, the car picked up speed, and the mechanician started to jump out to help guide the unruly craft off the track.


Into the stretch came the thundering vanguard of cars, and the mechanician, realizing the danger, tried to get on the track too fast and fell under the Case car. The rear wheel passed over him and he lay stunned in the middle of the track right south of the judges' stand.

The crowd gave a piercing scream of horror, as it seemed the onrush of cars would grind him up. Harry Knight, at the wheel of the Westcott, tried to avoid the figure huddled on the bricks and in dodging him skidded in the oil and dashed into Herb Lytle's car standing near the pit. Immediately there was another horrified cry, as every one felt sure a score would be butchered.

The officials hurriedly flagged down the cars coming up the stretch at top speed, but not until some of them had skidded dangerously near the wreck. Fate was kind, however, and no one else was injured.

The Westcott and the Apperson and Case cars were added to the discard. Knight had been driving a remarkably good race up to that time, and had gone for 165 miles without a stop. All of his efforts went for naught, however, due chiefly to the quantity of oil on the track.

Before the crowd had recovered from the shock, Harroun had taken his seat in the Marmon, and he began to cut out a lightning pace. He dashed past the 250-mile post at 73.23 miles per hour, clipping the record made by Joe Horan in the Lozier at Atlanta last fall.

On the next lap M. A. Marquette, in a McFarlan, dashed into the oil on the first turn south of the grand stand and skidded desperately, his car turning around completely thrice. The plucky pilot held on to the big car gamely, and, as fate was kind, no other car was close enough to him to cause any damage.

A shout of relief went up when the big white machine was straightened out and headed in the right direction at top speed again.


Harroun was never headed from the 250th mile to the finish of the race. He kept about a lap ahead of the procession at all times, with a few exceptions when the changes enabled the Lozier and the Bruce-Brown Fiat to cut down his lead.

Ray was riding easily, however, while the majority of the cars were working hard, although the Lozier and Fiat were both running and the terrific gait in magnificent style, despite the increasing layer of oil upon the course.

At 300 miles Harroun had an average speed of 73.94 miles for the long route. The Lozier kept coming like wind, but the Fiat slipped back to make room for De Palma in third position. Joe Dawson was driving a great race, but the four-cylinder Marmon did not hang on so consistently and, because of tire trouble, see-sawed with the Simplex, Fiat and Mercedes.

Aitken's National went out in the 330th mile with a broken connecting rod. Strang joined him on the side lines shortly when a steering knuckle went wrong and he headed the Case car toward the crowd hanging on the fence. Some clever work righted the car, but it could not proceed in the race.

At 400 miles, Harroun was going better than ever, and had raised the savage pace from 73.94 miles an hour to 74.49 miles an hour.

The Lozier and Fiat hung on grimly, though, and Ray's final stop for tires robbed him of practically every bit of margin that he had on his pursuers. He gained it back when they were forced to seek the pits, but the last century proved a battle of intense interest between these three titans.

At 470 miles, Bruce-Brown had forged into second place, with Mulford third and Joe Dawson fourth, closely followed by De Palma and the Simplex.

As the flying cars reeled off mile after mile, the crowd began to get restless. The strain was almost too much for human nerves stretched to the breaking point by the pranks of Fate. The track was getting more dangerous, due to the oil, the drivers were becoming tired, tires were throwing pieces of thread or rolling off bodily in an orbit of their own.

On came Harroun and on came the Fiat with Lozier hitting it up at a dizzy pace in a mad effort to overcome the lead. The Mercedes was roaring past at wonderful speed. Joe Dawson was fighting gamely. Merz was sticking it out grimly and consistently. And the others with less hope for first were none the less determined to share second or third or lesser parts of the rich purse.

At 490 miles, Harroun was beating it on the stretches, but nursing his car on the turn. Bruce-Brown was thundering at his heels with the Lozier, Dawson's Marmon, the Mercedes, De Palma's Simplex and Turner's Amplex following in the order named.

As the finish drew near the crowd waited breathlessly. And when the long yellow "Wasp" slid down the stretch and took the checkered flag, Harroun was given a big ovation by the crowd. An unfortunate tire change robbed the Fiat of second, putting the Lozier up a notch. Something struck the radiator of Dawson's car and put him out for good when it seemed he had fourth cash tucked away in his pocket.

Wishart shoved the Mercedes into the opening and De Palma captured fifth position in the final standing with the Simplex.

Merz raced into sixth place, while Turner gamely brought the Amplex home for seventh honors, with Cobe's Jackson, Belcher's Knox and Hughie Hughes a sturdy Mercer taking the next prizes. The Firestone-Columbus finished nicely, as did the Stutz, before the cars were called off the track.

Tire trouble played havoc with Burman and the speed king was not able to get speed out of his Benz without sacrificing time for reclothing the rims.

Harroun's Victory in Dollars and Cents
Total prizes............................$14,950.00
Earnings each hour on track............. 2,332.29
Earnings each lap of track.............. 75.00
Earnings each minute on track........... 37.50
Earnings each second on track........... .62
Earnings, if continued for year........$10,933,500

Sunday, March 13, 2016

First Woman Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers - Nora Stanton Blatch Barney

It's Women's History Month, so let's celebrate Nora Stanton Blatch Barney, admitted to ASCE as the first female member in 1906, advanced to the status of ASCE Fellow 99 years later, in 2015.

Nora Stanton Blatch Barney in 1921
Source: Wikipedia

Nora Stanton Blatch Barney became the first woman member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. She was the granddaughter of the famous suffragist, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Barney was also the first woman to earn a civil engineering degree from Cornell University.

According to Ben Walpole of ASCE News, in 1916, Barney applied for full ASCE Associate member status, but the Board of Direction denied her application. She took the matter to court, but lost. Walpole says she went on to have a successful engineering practice without the associate membership.

ASCE reports that in August 2015, the ASCE Executive Committee voted to posthumously advance Nora Stanton Blatch Barney to the status of ASCE Fellow. Executive Director, Thomas W. Smith III said about the advancement: "We want to recognize and appreciate those who have paved the way for today and tomorrow's diverse leadership for ASCE and the engineering profession. Advancing her to the higher level of ASCE Fellow recognizes her significant contributions."

In 1906, Nora Stanton Blatch Barney's admittance to ASCE was front page news. Below is an article I found in the Pittsburgh Daily Post from that year:

First Woman Member

American Society of Engineers Admits Miss Blatch

Special to The Pittsburgh Post.

NEW YORK. March 28.--The American Society of Civil Engineers has proved itself liberal-minded and generous, by admitting the first woman who applied for membership. Miss Nora Stanton Blatch, a granddaughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, is the first woman member of the society, as she was the first woman to take a degree as civil engineer in Cornell University.

Miss Blatch is not the first woman to become a civil engineer. Western universities and colleges have given the degree to a few women, and few co-educational institutions refuse the course to woman students who might wish to take it. Miss Blatch was offered a position as draughtsman in a large bridge company before she left college. She rested briefly after graduation, and went to work in September.

Works Cited

"First Woman Member." Pittsburgh Daily Post 29 Mar. 1906: 1. Print.

"Nora Stanton Blatch Barney." Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.

Walpole, Ben. "ASCE Recognizes Stanton Blatch Barney; Pioneering Civil Engineer, Suffragist." ASCE News. N.p., 28 Aug. 2015. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A finite element analysis of the Monolithic Dome, An academic Thesis

This thesis, by Nanette South Clark, was presented to the Department of Civil Engineering at Idaho State University in December 2005. It features ten chapters, figures and tables discussing the history of thin-shell and Monolithic Domes, shell theory, finite element analysis, comparisons of shell theories and a buckling analysis.

Figure 9-14 from thesis: Controlling Buckling Eigenvalue λ = 141 for 101.5 ft. diameter hemisphere with 1' x 1' radial ribs 20' long at 30 degrees off 2' x 1' ring at top of dome around 12' diameter skylight. Two 1' x 1' transverse ribs are located at 10' and 20' from ring beam. Shell thickness = 5 in.

Four of the major influences in the history of thin-shell structures are discussed. David B. South and his brothers, Barry and Randy South, are presented as the inventors of the Monolithic Dome. Monolithic Domes are thin-shell structures constructed by applying polyurethane foam to the interior surface of an airform followed by attaching rebar to the foam. About three inches of shotcrete is then sprayed onto the interior surface. Basic stress resultants are developed from membrane theory as presented by David P. Billington. The finite element analysis process (FEA) is discussed as well as an introduction to NE/NASTRAN, a finite element analysis program. Comparisons of stress resultants between shell theory and FEA are made for a hemispherical dome, a truncated, hemispherical dome, and a non-hemispherical dome. Shell theory for domes, rings and wall interactions is introduced to facilitate a comparison between theory and FEA for the dome-ring-wall problem. Finally, a finite element buckling analysis is presented for a non-hemispherical, truncated dome with a tower. The current design practice utilizes shell theory. The finite element analysis process was found to be very accurate when compared with shell theory results and more powerful when complicated problems were presented.
Read A finite element analysis of the Monolithic Dome in its entirety.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Ted Talk featuring the magic of Fibonacci

If you missed it, Arthur Benjamin gave a fantastic Ted Talk, The magic of Fibonacci numbers.

Benjamin says that mathematics is not just for calculation and application. "Wouldn't it be great if every once in awhile, we did mathematics simply because it was fun or beautiful or because it excited the mind?" he asks.

Benjamin explores the Fibonacci sequence and many of the intricate and amazing patterns associated with it. He concludes by saying, "Mathematics is not just solving for x, it's also figuring out why."

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Domes of Albion--Monolithic Villas in Paradise

Looking for an escape? Twenty Monolithic Dome villas nestled a tropical paradise on the island of Mauritius, offer the perfect getaway.

These villas--the Domes of Albion--boast stunning views, sandy white beaches, state-of-the-art architecture, green living and privacy. See more gorgeous photos and read the full article, "Luxury Tropical Living in the Domes of Albion," by Nanette South Clark on

Monday, April 6, 2015

Super Inventions at the White House Science Fair

Q. What does a multifunctional wheelchair accessory, next level password protection and a cardiac arrest predictor test have in common?

A. They are three of the coolest inventions in the White House's science fair this year according to "The coolest inventions in this year’s White House science fair," by Sonali Kohli on

March 23, 2015 was the fifth-annual science fair held at the White House. The theme this year was Diversity and Inclusion in STEM. In Becky Fried's article, "The Incredible Kid-Ingenuity on Display at the Fifth White House Science Fair," found on, she reports that more than 100 students from 30 states participated in the fair this year.

Fried quotes Pres. Obama's remarks to the participants, mentors and leaders:

These young scientists and engineers teach us … how to question assumptions; to wonder why something is the way it is, and how we can make it better. And, they remind us that there’s always something more to learn, and to try, and to discover, and to imagine--and that it’s never too early, or too late to create or discover something new.
Below is a video of some of the White House Science Fair highlights. I think the 6-year-old Super Hero girls stole the show.

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