Abraham Lawrence Bogart

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Abraham Lawrence Bogart - middle age.jpg
AL Bogart - Studio portrait - old age 001.jpg
Abraham Bogart - 22 Union Square 001.jpg

Born: November 20th, 1818

Died: August [6th], 1898

Abraham Lawrence Bogart was left an orphan at the age of thirteen, with two brothers to support. In the face of hardships, he began working for a dry goods house on Broadway, and within a few years he owned the business. He experimented with Bunsen burners while still a schoolboy and was the first to apply the Bunsen burner to gas stoves. He was also the first to build smokestacks for locomotives. He conducted scientific experiments into the photometric properties of gas and burner design to develop more efficient lighting sources. He was cited as one of the earliest researchers into shadowgraphy, the name by which X-Rays was known. He provided gas meters and photometric devices for gas companies.

In 1867 he entered the electrical business, designing gas lighting systems for churches and theatres, and had patented sixty inventions for electric gas lighting apparatuses. His jobs included the Senate Chamber in the US Capitol Building and Saint Patrick's Cathedral in NYC. Bogart fiercely defended his patents and was very successful in patent litigation, often winning more money afterwards.

Many of the Bogart electric gas lighting systems for large venues remained in use long after the introduction of the incandescent bulb. To quote the Lighting Journal, December, 1913, "The Bogart Frictional Gas Lighting Machine has been on the market for over 40 years, and of the 15,000 machines sold since 1870, many are still in active service."

Bogart continued to innovate throughout his career. To quote The Electrical World, Sept 1, 1888 (pg. 111), "Mr Bogart has long been known for his innovative and inventive genius".

In 1887, at the age of 69, he married 17 year old Julia Appley, the daughter of Captain Jacob Appley, a wealthy New Yorker who was the half brother of Abraham's first wife. The affair was a sensation at the time. Bogart passed away during a bike ride with his son in 1898 and was survived by five children, three by his first wife and two by his second. Two of his sons, A. Livingston Bogart and Eugene E. Bogart worked with him in the electrical business, and continued his firm under the name A.L. Bogart. Later, after the early deaths of both sons, the firm continued under the direction of his granddaughter Ethel Bogart, the 25 year old daughter of A. Livingston Bogart.

Further Reading

Bogart letter to Edward Clark - architect of the Capitol - Proposal for electric gas lighting in the U.S. Senate Chamber. Written and signed by A.L. Bogart (Abraham Lawrence) to Edward Clark, architect of the Capitol, September, 1870. The gas jets were ignited using a sparking mechanism.