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The "Automatic Man" of Tonawanda! | People

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The "Automatic Man" of Tonawanda!
The "Automatic Man" of Tonawanda!

Walking Automaton is a Mechanical Wonder - This Man May Walk For Years Without Rest or Sleep, Yet Never Feel Fatigue or Need For Food or Drink

   American ingenuity is ever striving for startling effects. It is never satisfied. Ordinary achievements seem beneath its attention. It looks beyond, even if the object of its aim be more or less fantastic. One of the latest freaks of mechanical skill is the contsruction, by Louis Philip Perew, of Tonawanda, NewYork - a small town near Niagara Falls - of a gigantic man. Perew, with all the ardour of a modern Frankenstein, has endeavoured to make his man as life like in appearance as possible. Not only is its outward form a close model of a human being, but within it have been secreted mechanical devices which endow the automation with weird properties, making it even more nearly resemble an intelligent being....The Frankenstein of Tonawanda has brought into existance a thing of wood, rubber, and metals, which walks, talks, runs, jumps, rolls its eyes - imitating to a nicety almost every action of the original on which it is founded... By W.B. Northrop-extract from article published in Strand Magazine of London, England.

Buffalo Express September 2, 1900

   A walking automaton has been invented by Louis Philip Perew of Tonawanda, which eclipses, so far as known, any other similar invention ever made. Of heroic proportions this mechanical wonder is shaped in every way like a man. Not only can it walk but it's eyes roll, it's head turns and all it's joints move naturally.

   It can even talk. To test the powers of the giant fully, it is proposed to walk him across the continent accompanied by only two human companions.  It is expected that other and similar walking men will be made and toured through the country in order to advertise the Pan-American Exposition.  A man that walks is a common sight. A dead man that walks is occasionally beheld by sailors on a Saturday Night.  But a man that walks long distance that never was alive is something so  unheard of that it is hard to believe that such a one could exist.  But exist it does, and walk it can, as any doubters will soon be able to see. For nine years Louis Philip Perew labored with his body and his brain at a huge undertaking.  Now the work is finished and he has a graven image made of wood and metal, in the likeness of a man.  And it walks!

    Seven feet five inches high, of  excellent proportions, this mechanical man is to every appearance a human being.  He is well formed, of heroic stature, and has a dignified military carriage. He has the quick step of the perfect heel and toe walker.  His features are of the typical American and so natural that one would imagine them of natural flesh instead of aluminum.  He is dressed in the height of fashion in a white duck outing suit and cap of the latest shape. Eyes of perfect blue roll in the head and gaze upon those who surround him, putting a feeling in the awed spectator that half convinces him that the automation is something more than a mechanical construction.  Such is the giant soulless man that has been made in Tonawanda, and that will walk, it is expected, from the Atlantic to the Pacific....

This story continues in The Buffalo History Gazette(click here)

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