Radio Wave Building is the westernmost structure in the Madison Square North Historic District, designed by August Hatfield in Queen Anne style and erected in 1883. Although well executed and well preserved (save for the loss of the Mansard roof), the building’s main claim to fame is that during its tenure as the Gerlach Hotel it was the home and laboratory of Nikola Tesla, who gave us radio, alternating current, neon and florescent lights, spark plugs and remote control. (Not to mention artificial lightning from Tesla Coils!)
The Yugoslav-American Bicentennial Committee placed a plaque on the building to commemorate Tesla on Jan. 7, 1977 – the anniversary of Tesla’s death. But the building has a more fitting memorial that would make Nikola smile: A ground-floor tenant is Broadway Wireless Center, whose window is lit in neon and florescent tubes.
Nikola Tesla has several other memorials in midtown. A bust of Nikola Tesla was erected at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, two blocks south of the Radio Wave Building. There’s another memorial plaque on the Hotel New Yorker (W34th Street at Eighth Avenue), where Tesla lived for 10 years – and died. And there’s a “Tesla Corner” at Sixth Avenue and W40th Street, where Nikola liked to feed the pigeons.
Nikola Tesla had a fascinating – though often tragic – life. Follow the Tesla links below to learn more.
Radio Wave Building Vital Statistics
- Location: 49 W 27th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue
- Year completed: 1883
- Architect: August Hatfield
- Floors: 11
- Style: Queen Anne
- New York City Landmark: 2001
Radio Wave Building Suggested Reading
- Wikimedia Commons entry (Radio Wave Building)
- Wikipedia entry (NoMad – NOrth of MADison Square Park)
- NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report (see pg. 117)
- Benny & Linda blog entry
- Quirky.com entry
- Atlas Obscura entry
- Wikipedia entry (Nikola Tesla)
- Tesla Memorial Society of New York website
- Tesla Universe website
- NY Times: Switching to AC