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Atlas Obscura Grave of John Matthews: The Soda Fountain King

You may have noticed that America is in the throes of a serious seltzer craze right now—indeed, perhaps you are one of the hipsters crushing La Croix at your desk or documenting your Unicorn Kisses flavor Polar on Instagram. In the most recent episode of Gastropod, we explore the history of seltzer, unravel the peculiar way we taste carbonation, and bust the beverage’s many health myths.

What many people do not know, however, is the story of the man who brought artificial seltzer water to America: John Matthews, the “soda fountain king.” An immigrant from the UK, Matthews created an apparatus that pharmacists could sit on their counters to dispense carbonated water—and, in the process, set off the original American seltzer craze. He is laid to rest at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, where you can visit his elaborate tomb to pay respects to his bubbly addition to American culture—perhaps with a seltzer in hand. 

Keep track of the places you have been, log in.
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7.79km
Calvert Vaux Cove

Discover Calvert Vaux Cove in Brooklyn, New York: This small, hidden cove is home to abandoned boats.

Atlas Obscura 2020
7.02km
Gravesend

Discover Gravesend in Brooklyn, New York: Nearly four centuries after its founding, remnants of one of the oldest planned communities in North America are still visible in southern Brooklyn.

Atlas Obscura 2019
3.43km
Kane Street Impaled Pumpkins

Discover Kane Street Impaled Pumpkins in Brooklyn, New York: For 20 years, local pumpkins have met their fate on the iron fence surrounding this Cobble Hill home.

Brutalism
2.78km
68th Precinct, NYC Police Department
Atlas Obscura 2021
3.44km
Columbia Street Waterfront District Sculpture Garden

Discover Columbia Street Waterfront District Sculpture Garden in Brooklyn, New York: This eclectic sculpture garden in Brooklyn, home to a bizarre collection of art, was once a run-down junkyard.

Atlas Obscura 2018
1.46km
‘Jumping Jack’ Power Plant

Discover 'Jumping Jack' Power Plant in Brooklyn, New York: A mysterious, abandoned building rotting on the Brooklyn waterfront.

Atlas Obscura 2017
9.03km
Coney Island Museum

Discover Coney Island Museum in Brooklyn, New York: An oasis of calm amid the chaos of the boardwalk, the museum traces the heritage of this beloved beachside amusement park.