Brooklyn Public Library

Mobile AppDownload our Mobile App

eNewsletterSubscribe to BPL eNews


Little Known Brooklyn Residents: Emil Kulik

Apr 21, 2010 11:33 AM | 0 comments

From his workshop at 240 Bedford Ave in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Emil Kulik spent more than three years and a decade worth of savings to realize his dream -- inventing a diving apparatus like no other, seen in this image below.

His invention, completed in 1932, resulted in a 3 1/2 ton device -- a cross between a diving bell and a solo submarine. The chief feature of his invention was that the diving apparatus operator would be able to work inside the diving bell for long periods of time, at normal air pressure with little or no help from the surface. The robot arms protruding from the front were operated by foot pedals, and were described in his patent as follows: "...this metallic member...has a plurality of fingers bent so that the entire construction very closely simulates a human hand in the act of clutching something." The diving apparatus could move at speeds of up to two miles per hour.

Emil Kulik, a former sea captain and naval officer, was born in Europe and worked in the sheet metal industry after arriving in the US, gaining fabrication skills and saving money to realize his invention. On February 23, 1932, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that he planned to take his self navigating diving bell "into the harbor and descend near the Statue of Liberty" in May of that year. This trial would test the diving bell to about 60 feet; however it was designed to work at up to 400 feet below surface.

Emil Kulik created the vessel to search for shipwreck treasures, and also suggested that his invention could be used for pearl fishing, submarine rescues, and underwater ship repairs. The 14 foot diving bell was exhibited at the International Patents Exhibition at the Grand Central Palace in May 1932. More details and drawings can be found in the patent for his invention.