California was the birthplace of more than just the Gold Rush. You might be surprised to find out what impressive innovations originated in Northern California.
You can thank Levi Strauss for those favorite pair of jeans in your dresser drawer. Loeb “Levi” Strauss was originally from Germany, but his family immigrated to New York and specialized in selling wholesale goods. At age 23, Levi decided to head to San Francisco and sell dry goods there, possibly to profit from the Gold Rush. As the story goes, Levi partnered with a Reno tailor to patent and produce riveted clothing for miners. They opened up a manufacturing facility and produced copper-riveted “waist overalls” (now known as jeans) out of both brown and blue material. Strauss preferred the blue denim, since it was a sturdier fabric. For more information about Levi Strauss and the history behind the Levi brand, visit www.levistrauss.com/about/heritage.
San Francisco is also the birthplace of one of America’s favorite summertime treats – the Popsicle. Did you know that the Popsicle was actually invented by an 11 year old? Frank Epperson left a concoction of soda, water and a stirring stick in a cup overnight on his porch. He woke up to find it frozen and dubbed it the “Epsicle.” His treat became very popular and his kids began referring to it as “Pop’s ‘sicle.” Epperson applied for a patent in 1923, and, as they say, “the rest is history.” For some fun Popsicle facts and other information, check out www.popsicle.com.
If you enjoy discovering life under the sea, then you probably rely on a good wetsuit to keep your body warm and protected. You can thank the late Hugh Bradner for this revolutionizing piece of swimwear. While working as part of the faculty at University of California, Berkeley, Bradner also spent significant time pursuing his interest in diving. The cold, deep waters limited his underwater experiences, so he began to experiment with neoprene to help him stay warm on his dives, leading to the invention of the wetsuit in 1952. Learn more about the invention and Bradner, who also worked on the top-secret Manhattan Project that helped develop the atomic bomb, from this San Francisco Chronicle article, written in 2008: http://articles.sfgate.com/2008-05-11/bay-area/17152342_1_uc-physicist-uc-berkeley-hugh-bradner.
Plenty of things we use every day were the result of someone’s ingenuity. Take some time to find out what other incredible products came from California, and maybe you’ll be inspired to invent something yourself.