Here at Untapped Cities, we’re pretty obsessed with Nikola Tesla, tracking him around New York City including checking out the room he died in at The New Yorker Hotel and making sure one of his statues survived a recent fire. Not surprisingly, we’re very excited about the upcoming documentary on PBS American Experience, “Tesla” that tells the story of this prolific and visionary inventor who continues captured the popular imagination of the 21st century – from the line of electric cars to the name of rock bands and a minor planet.
We’re excited to share with you an exclusive clip provided to Untapped Cities from the documentary that chronicles Tesla’s celebrity days in Gilded Age New York City – when he lived in luxurious hotels like the Hotel Astor, a foreshadowing of his later residential choices at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and the New Yorker Hotel, and dined in society hotspots like Delmonico’s. PBS describes him as a “showman,” beloved by the press for his ability to expound at length on any given subject, even things that were yet to come: robots, radar, solar and wind energy, and more.
Yet, despite his accomplishments – most notably alternating current (AC) which enabled the distribution of power at a regional scale and the invention of wireless telegraphy – his quirky personality traits, obsessions and phobias gave him the reputation for being a “mad scientist.” According to PBS, “Everything he did had to be divisible by three, he had a manic fear of germs, and couldn’t bear the sight of earrings or the touch of human hair.”
Here’s as longer introduction:
Tesla’s life is the story of great imagination, unfortunate business strategems that led to his downfall, and his resurrection and reaffirmation following his death. PBS contends, “It is his exhilarating sense of the future that has inspired renewed interest in the man, as his once scoffed-at vision of a world connected by wireless technology has become a reality.
Written and produced by David Grubin and executive produced by Mark Samels, Tesla premieres on American Experience October, 18, 2016 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS.