www.popularmechanics.com
www.popularmechanics.com

Any school child knows that Neil Armstrong was the first man to sit in an Adirondack chair on the moon, but few know the story of its humble roots as a wee embryo in the mind of Thomas Lee. Lee invented the chair in 1903 as an anniversary present for his wife, Laura, whose legs were exceptionally long in the length between knee cap and pelvis. The rest of her body was normal, it was just that part that was really long, and though Lee always sought to quiet her self-conscious anxiety, he writes in his diary, “she never seems to find satisfaction in my attention.” Nevertheless, the chair could not save their marriage; irreconcilable differences led to their divorce in 1904. The fundamental attributes of an Adirondack chair—named, of course, when Lee was vacationing in the Adirondack mountains and was inspired by a beautiful postcard his wife sent from Las Vegas (she had chosen not to go with him because she was in Las Vegas on a business trip, though she didn’t work, which was funny)—the key attributes are the arched back, reclined angle, and wooden planks. (Fun fact, a true Adirondack chair is made of 11 planks, one for each year of Mr. and Mrs. Lee’s marriage, until it ended, painfully, sending Lee into a 3 week drinking binge.) The chair morphed over time, acquiring the distinct design for which it is today known. Throughout its history, the chair has stayed true to the principles on which Lee designed it—desperation and remorse. It even enjoyed a brief stint as the national chair of the USA from 1923-1924, until it was again overtaken by the folding chair from 1925-1933, which saw the end of prohibition and the rise of the barstool. But the Adirondack has made a comeback in recent years among certain circles. Its international popularity has increased significantly, since The Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China has chosen it as his chair of choice (though of course the committee is standing), seeing sales numbers skyrocket. Then, in 2004, the Federal Commission for Chairs allocated nearly 12 million to Adirondack chair-related research, which can only leave us hopeful for the future of the Adirondack, for the chair, for furniture as a whole, and for America.