8. Nikola Tesla Labs

Tesla’s first lab was located at 89 Liberty Street

During his 60 years of working in New York, Tesla moved to a number of laboratories throughout the city. The Gotham Center for New York City History details a number of Tesla’s labs in the article, ‘Places of Invention: Nikola Tesla’s Life in New York.’ While digging ditches for the Western Union Telegraph Company, Tesla grabbed the attention of his supervisor Alfred S. Brown, who introduced him to Charles Peck, a lawyer who sold his Mutual Union Telegraph Company to Jay Gould. Brown and Peck became partners and rented a lab for Tesla in the Financial District at 89 Liberty Street. While at Liberty Street, Tesla perfected the design for his AC motor and earned his first patent.

In 1889, after returning from a brief time in Pittsburgh, Tesla rented a new laboratory at 175 Grand Street, after learning that German physicist Heinrich Hertz had detected radio waves. The discovery excited Tesla and it was at this lab that he created the Tesla coil, a high-voltage, high-frequency transformer.

His next laboratory at 33-35 South Fifth Avenue, which is today LaGuardia Place, was where he completed his most important work on wireless lighting. He gave demonstrations to his friends including famed architect Stanford White and author Mark Twain. But the lab caught on fire in 1895, and he lost all the plans and projects he was working on. Tesla fell into a deep depression, but with the support of his friends and “electroshock treatments from his coils,” he overcame his depression.

In July of the same year, Tesla rented out yet another lab, this time located at 46 East Houston Street. Here he learned about X-rays, developed a radio-controlled boat and worked on a system to transmit power around the world without using wires. This resulted in Tesla building a power station at Wardenclyffe on Long Island.