Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tesla's Grand Street Laboratory, Updated 11/23/15

Updates at the bottom of the page include photos of buildings from the area, including one that has Tesla's lab in the extreme corner. Also, historic "Bird's Eye View" maps have been added.

After describing the fate of Nikola Tesla's Houston Street laboratory in yesterday's post, I thought, to be complete, I should include information on his other laboratories.

Tesla's second laboratory was located at 175 Grand Street. From Carlson's biography:

When Tesla returned to New York [August 1889], he went to work in a new laboratory at 175 Grand Street. This lab consisted of one room divided by partitions; Tesla’s backer, Brown, complained that the space was too small for the work he thought needed to be done. Along with moving his laboratory, Tesla also changed his residence to the Astor House on Broadway between Barclay and Vesey streets.

From: Carlson, W. Bernard. Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age (p. 118). Princeton University Press.

This laboratory was located at the second building down on the south side of Grand, east of the corner of Grand and Baxter. Its location is shown in this 1893 map (Tesla's laboratory, in the upper middle, is highlighted in purple):

Plate 5. Atlas of the City of New York, Volume Four. South of Fourteenth Street. 3rd Edition. E. Robinson and R.H. Pidgeon. Published by E. Robinson and Co., New York, 1893.

Which doesn't look much different from this 1956 map, although the building at 175 seems to be divided in two:

From: Bromley, George Washington. Atlas of the city of New York, Manhattan Island. 1956. New York Public Library Archives.

This was an interesting and is a mostly preserved neighborhood. Between Center and Baxter on Grand was the I.O.O.F Hall, the International Order of Odd Fellows (shown in the 1893 map). It still stands. Across the street from this was the Center Street Market. The new police headquarters was built across from this (having moved from 300 Mulberry) in 1909, an ostentatious building which still stands. Also preserved are several buildings on the north side of Grand between Baxter and Mulberry. Finally, at the southwest corner of Grand and Mulberry there was the Banca Stabile which served the community of Little Italy from 1882 to 1932 and in recent years has become the Italian-American Museum. (New York Times, September 9, 2008, Regional) This was the sixth address down from Tesla's laboratory suggesting that Tesla's address can be seen at the far right of this photo.

Banca Stabile, corner of Mulberry and Grand. The right side of the photograph looks down Grand Street. Tesla's lab would be the third address down in the taller building at the edge of the photo. Photo dated 1885 in CUNY webpage. From the Italian-American Museum.

1904 Grand Street, Mulberry at far right.
Excerpted from Bird's Eye View of New York City, 1904, New York Public Library.

Above map, annotated. 1. Building with Tesla's laboratory, 175 Grand Street. 2. Banca Stabile. 3. Odd Fellows Hall. 4. Future site of Central Police Headquarters. 5. Center Street Market.

In 1990, a new building was constructed which covered this territory (source: New York Times 11/20/2009, Real Estate). The upper floors are part of LaGrande Condominium. Even though  there are several storefronts along the first floor, they each bear the address 179 Grand. Among these, the business that corresponds to the former site of 175 Grand is Villy Pharmacy.

Villy Pharmacy at the site of Tesla's 175 Grand Street laboratory.

Part One: Tesla's East Houston Street Laboratory.
Part Three: Tesla's South Fifth Avenue Laboratory.
Part Four: Tesla's Liberty Street Laboratory.
Part Five: A Clear Photo of the Building that Housed Tesla's East Houston Laboratory.
 Odd Fellows Hall, ~1975. Edmund V. Gillon, photographer. Corner of Center and Grand.

A Predator's Game is available in soft-cover and ebook editions through Amazon and other online retailers.

A Predator's Game, now available, Rook's Page Publishing.

Nikola Tesla, Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr. Henry H. Holmes are all characters in my thriller, A Predator's Game.

Back page blurb.

Manhattan, 1896.

When the author Arthur Conan Doyle meets Nikola Tesla he finds a tall, thin genius with a photographic memory and a keen eye, and recognizes in the eccentric inventor the embodiment of his creation, Sherlock. Together, they team up to take on an "evil Holmes." Multi-murderer Dr. Henry H. Holmes has escaped execution and is unleashing a reign of terror upon the metropolis. Set in the late nineteenth century in a world of modern marvels, danger and invention, Conan Doyle and Tesla engage the madman in a deadly game of wits.

Martin Hill Ortiz, also writing under the name, Martin Hill, is the author of A Predatory Mind. Its sequel, set in 1890s Manhattan and titled A Predator's Game, will be available from Rook's Page Publishing, March 30, 2016. It features Nikola Tesla as detective.


  1. Aniline was first prepared by Unverdorben (1826) by dry distillation of indigo. engineering laboratory equipment

  2. I was there today. LaGrande condo and Villy Pharmacy are still there. The building where Odd Fellows Hall is located is under tarp. I also noticed that the wording of something like ’Police Station’ appears across the top of the Greek Classical looking building, marked as #5 Center Street Market in the above.