Saturday, July 18, 2015

Frank Lloyd Wright Rescues Einstein

Albert Einstein (Public Domain)
Physicist Albert Einstein and architect Frank Lloyd Wright apparently met for the first time in 1931, at the house called La Miniatura, in Pasadena CA, which Wright had designed for Alice Millard, a rare-book dealer. According to an essay by Milton Cameron

When Albert Einstein first met Frank Lloyd Wright, he mistook the architect for a musician. Leaping from his chair, Einstein announced that he was returning home to fetch his violin and would be back shortly to perform a duet. Only upon his return did he learn that Wright was not a pianist.

Frank Lloyd Wright (Public Domain)

That same year, a news article reported that when Einstein stopped in Chicago on his return from Pasadena, Wright was standing beside him when the famous physicist was mobbed by a crowd of 2000 women, who were Chicago-area peace advocates. The story is told in the following excerpts from FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT SAVES EINSTEIN FROM FRIENDLY MOB, Scientist Greeted by 2000 Chicago Pacifists at Station; Wright Draws Him Up Train Steps in Capital Times (Madison WI), March 4, 1931—

The world-famous physicist, who has been the guest of scientists in Pasadena, was all but mowed down by 2000 women, representing every peace organization in Chicago, as he stepped off the Manhattan Limited in the Pennsylvania station…

Smiling and undaunted, the gentle little man, himself an ardent peace advocate, stepped down among the milling mob of women, shaking hands and listening wordlessly as each volunteered a hurried greeting.

Finally Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect, and Dr. Carl Beck, both long-time friends,•• fearing for the limb if not the life of the distinguished scientist, drew him up the train steps and back to the observation platform, where he talked briefly in his own language.

•  I'm not sure I understand. Einstein is described here as a "gentle little man," yet a quick online search finds that he was apparently 5 foot 9 inches. Wright, on the other hand, claimed to be 5 foot 8.5 inches, but people often speculate that he may have been even shorter, thereby accounting for the lower ceiling heights in some of his buildings. Yet, in this account, it is the diminutive Wright who hoists the larger Einstein onto the railroad platform.

•• If Einstein and Wright had met for the first time at that same meeting in Pasadena, how could they have been "long-time friends"?

See also: Roy R. Behrens, FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT and Mason City: Architectural Heart of the Prairie (2016).