It’s August, news is slow. So GM is filling the gaps with a few old, fun articles of his that you either never read or forgot. Today GM connects Volta Park to Napoleon Bonaparte.:
Would Volta Park exist without Napoleon Bonaparte?
Of course it would. But would it be the same name? Probably not, surprisingly enough.
That’s because Volta Park is named after Volta Place, one of the streets that borders it. Volta Place is named after the Volta Bureau, which stands at 35th and Volta. (Volta Pl. was originally Fourth St., then it was temporarily Q St. before being renamed Volta Pl. circa 1920).
And the Volta Bureau was created by Alexander Graham Bell and named after the Volta Fund, which was Bell’s trust fund he established to study deafness. The trust was funded by and itself named after the Volta Prize, which Bell received in 1880 by the government of France in honor of his inventing the telephone. (It was 50,000 francs, which translates to about $500,000 in today’s money).
The Volta Prize was named after Alessandro Volta, the inventor of the electric battery and whose birthday was yesterday.
And the person that first established the Volta Prize in 1801? Napoleon Bonaparte.
It gives the place a bit of imperial luster, don’t you think? (Although history nerds will point out that in 1801, France was still operating under the post-revolutionary Directorate. The empire wasn’t declared until 1804. But still…)