Tag Archives: 1883

Radio Wave Building

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

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American Youth Hostel

American Youth Hostel occupies the former Association Residence for Respectable Aged Indigent Females (aka Association Residence for Women). The landmark is one of the three surviving New York buildings designed by Richard Morris Hunt, one of America’s leading architects of the nineteenth century.

The original structure – a home for destitute war widows – was extended in 1908; architect Charles A. Rich followed Hunt’s design for the exterior.

The building – rare as it is – came close to being demolished in 1974. Then known as the Association Residence Nursing Home or Association Residence for Women, the building was vacated with plans to demolish and rebuild. During the July 1977 blackout much of the roof was destroyed by fire. The following May, the City of New York acquired the building; in 1981 the roof was finally repaired.

American Youth Hostels purchased the building and began restoration in 1984; the hostel began operations in 1990. It is reportedly the world’s largest hostel, with more than 650 beds.

American Youth Hostel Vital Statistics
American Youth Hostel Recommended Reading

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