Deserted Building Detail At Nikola Tesla's Wardenclyffe Laboratory Site - Shoreham, New York

© Sophie W. Smith

Joined October 2012

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The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe is a nonprofit organization established to develop a regional science and technology center at the site of Nikola Tesla’s former Wardenclyffe laboratory on Long Island, New York.1 The center raised funding through crowd funding efforts to purchase the property from its original owner.

Early history of the site

In 1898, electrical engineer, inventor, and early pioneer of radio and electrical power technology, Nikola Tesla2 began planning and designing the Wardenclyffe Tower, a wireless transmission tower intended for commercial trans-Atlantic wireless telephony, broadcasting, and proof-of-concept demonstrations of wireless power transmission.34

In 1901 construction began on the land near Long Island Sound, with initial funding from J. P. Morgan and other venture capitalists.5

In June 1902 Tesla moved his laboratory from Manhattan to Wardenclyffe. However in 1903, when the tower structure was near completion, it was still not yet functional due to last-minute design changes. In addition to commercial wireless telecommunications, Tesla intended the tower be used to demonstrate how electrical energy could be transmitted without the need for power lines. Construction costs eventually exceeded the money provided by Morgan and additional financiers such as John Jacob Astor were reluctant to come forward with more money. By July 1904 the investors ceased additional financing.

By 1905, most of the site’s activity had to be shut down for lack of funding. Attempts to resurrect the project failed and the facility was partially abandoned around 1911, and the tower structure ultimately deteriorated. The transmission tower was never fully operational.6

More recently, the Wardenclyffe site became a processing facility for a photography company. Eventually the site was turned into a Superfund hazardous waste site, taking years to clean up. 7

In 1994, acting on the advice of the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, a formal nomination process was initiated by the Tesla Wardenclyffe Project seeking placement of the Wardenclyffe laboratory-office building and the Tesla tower foundation on both the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places. This would result in the creation of a monument to Tesla out of the Wardenclyffe site itself.8

As of August 2012, the site was owned by Agfa. Read more

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  • © Sophie W. Smith
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