Nikola Tesla Corner

Sign for Nikola Tesla Corner

Nikola Tesla Corner: A New York Tribute to the Pioneer of Modern Electricity

In the city that never sleeps, there is a street corner that pays homage to Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest inventors of all time.  Named the Nikola Tesla Corner, it can be found at the corner of Avenue of the Americas (6th Avenue) and West 40th Street in Midtown Manhattan.  Named Nikola Tesla corner as a tribute to Tesla’s contributions to science and technology by New York City that was his home for a large part of his life, I find myself looking up and thinking of Tesla every time I cross this corner, which is often.

Who was Nikola Tesla?

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.

Born on July 10, 1856, in Smiljan, Croatia, he died in New York City on January 7, 1943 at the age of 86. During his lifetime, Tesla was known for his work in the field of electromagnetism, wireless communication, and radio technology, and held more than 300 patents for his inventions.

Tesla studied at the Austrian Polytechnic in Graz and later worked for the Continental Edison Company in France before moving to the United States in 1884 to work with Thomas Edison, and later at the Tesla Electric Company which he founded.

As is the case with many people that are ahead of their time, Tesla struggled financially throughout much of his life and died in relative obscurity despite his many contributions to science and technology. However, his legacy has continued to grow in the years since his death, and he is now recognized as one of the most important inventors and scientists of the modern era, which includes electricity as we use it today.

Nikola Tesla in New York

Nikola Tesla moved to New York City in 1884 to work for Thomas Edison’s company, the Edison Machine Works.  Tesla and Edison soon had a falling out over the use of direct current (DC) versus alternating current (AC) in the power grid as Edison disagreed with Tesla about AC being a better and more efficient way to transmit electricity over long distances.

Tesla eventually left Edison’s company in 1887 and started his own research laboratory known as the “Tesla Electric Company”, where Tesla went on to develop inventions such as the Tesla coil, wireless communication, and the Tesla turbine.

During the last 10 years of his life, Tesla lived at the New Yorker Hotel, which is at 34th Street and 8th Avenue.  The hotel is preserving his legacy by naming Room 3327 the Nikola Tesla Room and Room 3328 the Nikola Tesla Study in his memory. There is also a history exhibit that anyone can visit with items that Tesla used, Tesla photos at the hotel, and his correspondence on the New Yorker Hotel letterhead.

Nikola Tesla Pigeons

Tesla was known to have a fascination with birds and their ability to navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field, and he believed that he could learn from them to improve his own inventions. 

During his time in New York, Tesla worked on 40th Street adjoining Bryant Park for a few years, and then lived close by at the New Yorker Hotel at 34th Street and 8th Avenue from 1934 – 1943. 

Tesla spent a lot of time at Bryant Park, where he would often feed the pigeons in the park, and he used to say that he got some of his best ideas while doing so.  In some places, the pigeons are often referred to as doves, which is easily explained by New York pigeons being of the rock dove species. 

Nikola Tesla was known to have a close relationship with the pigeons he used to visit at Bryant Park.  Not only did he become very attached to the birds, but he claimed to have fallen in love with a white pigeon, which he believed he had a special connection to him.  Nikola Tesla is said to have seen the white pigeon at his windowsill at the New Yorker Hotel with a bright light in its eyes one day.  Tesla sais that he knew the pigeon was dying, and took this as an indication that his life’s work was finished. As Atlas Obscura notes, Tesla said – “I loved that pigeon as a man loves a women, and she loved me. As long as I had her, there was a purpose to my life.”

 It has been speculated that Tesla’s relationship with the pigeons was a sign of his deteriorating mental health, but others believe that it was simply a manifestation of his love for animals and his desire to learn from the natural world.

Nikola Tesla Corner

New York City designated the corner of 40th Street and 6th Avenue as the Nikola Tesla Corner in 1994 in recognition of Tesla’s contributions to science and technology as a New Yorker.

The Nikola Tesla Corner honors Tesla’s memory and celebrates his life and work as one of the greatest inventors of all time.

It is an inspiration not just to future generations of scientists and inventors, but to every New Yorker by serving as a reminder of one person’s ability to change the world we live in.

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Hi, I'm Hanit Gyani, a full time professional by day and a blogger by night and weekend. Welcome to my blog, aka my passion project, Gotta Love New York.

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