The Salem Lyceum

A few weeks ago I had dinner in a restaurant housed in the former Salem Lyceum building. Lyceums were to mid-nineteenth-century America what TED talks are to our America.  Here’s a nice summary of the history of the one in Salem.  Hawthorne, Thoreau, Emerson, Daniel Webster . . . the intellectual and political heavyweights of nineteenth-century Massachusetts all showed up here.

As the article points out, the Salem Lyceum is most famous for an event that was technical, not intellectual — Alexander Graham Bell’s first public demonstration of “long distance telephone conversations” in 1877:

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Technology marches on.  I took this photo on my iPhone, which automatically sent a copy to my Dropbox account on a computer somewhere in the cloud.  Then I used my phone’s global positioning technology to map out the route back to my hotel.  I didn’t use the phone to talk to anyone.

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