Historic, but not famous

Isaac Leopold Rice, founder Forum Publishing and Battery Company

Isaac Leopold Rice (1850 – 1915) was a  businessman, investor, musicologist, author, and noted chess patron. He was born in Bavaria and emigrated to the United States with his mother in 1856. They initially lived in Philadelphia where he attended school, but upon graduation he went to Paris to study music for 3 years. He returned and worked at a newspaper then moved to England  in 1868 to be a music and language teacher. A year later he moved to New York City and practiced music before going back to school to become a lawyer. After graduating from Columbia College of Law in 1880 he practiced law for the rest of the decade.

He became a specialist in railroad law in the United States, and held large investments in several lines, including the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. While a lawyer he was invited to join a music publishing company and decided to do that as well as diversify his railroad holdings. He eventually bailed out the bankrupt Electro-Dynamic Company in 1892 with a partner and became the first president of The Forum magazine, and later the Electric Storage Battery Co. (later Exide) in 1897.

He bought out a company that made the first successful electric submarine and named the company  the Electric Boat Company in 1899. He contracted with the US Navy and delivered a fleet of submarines to them. Electric Boat was a founding company of General Dynamics Corporation. During World War I, Rice’s new company (Electric Boat) and its subsidiaries (notably Elco) built 85 Navy submarines and 722 submarine chasers, along with 580 motor launches for the British Royal Navy.

He also wrote and published books on music and music theory as well as becoming an accomplished chess master and president of the Manhattan Chess Club.

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Historic, but not famous

August Belmont Jr. (February 18, 1853 – December 10, 1924) was an American financier. He financed the construction of the original New York subway (1900-1904) and for many years headed the Interborough Rapid Transit Co., which ran the transit system. August was born in Manhattan and was the grandson of Commodore Matthew Perry.

He  founded the Interborough Rapid Transit Company in 1902 to help finance the construction of and operate the first underground subway line. He served as president, and, in 1907, chairman of the company. Belmont holds the distinction of owning the world’s only purpose built private subway car. Named Mineola, it was used by Belmont to give tours of the IRT.

Belmont was involved in World War I and received a commission as major in the United States Army Air Service on November 9, 1917, in France. He also owned thoroughbred and polo horses and was considered the saviour of horse racing in New York State and was the president of the American Kennel Club. The land he owned on Long Island became the Belmont State Park after his death. There is also a horse racing track with his name on it in the greater New York City area. 

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