Wardenclyffe Laboratory

One and one half story, nine bay by nine bay brick building with a side-gabled roof.
Wardenclyffe Laboratory

Photograph by Justin Hoin, courtesy of New York State Historic Preservation Office

Quick Facts

Location:
56 NY 25A, Shoreham, New York
Significance:
Engineering, Science
Designation:
Listed in the National Register – Reference number 100002744
OPEN TO PUBLIC:
No
MANAGED BY:
Private
Wardenclyffe Laboratory is nationally significant in the areas of science and engineering for its association with inventor and visionary Nikola Tesla (1856-1943). Tesla, one of the most important scientists and inventors of the modern age, worked at this lab between 1902 and 1906, and it was the site of his most advanced experiments in wireless power transmission. Wardenclyffe, including the laboratory and the ruins of a tower, both of which were designed to Tesla’s specifications by American architects McKim, Mead and White, was Tesla’s last laboratory; they are the only remaining historic resources associated with the inventor and his work. Born in Croatia, Tesla displayed promise in his early education and work in technology. After inventing new equipment and rising to the head of Budapest’s telephone exchange, Tesla began working for the Edison Company in Paris. In 1884, Tesla moved to the United States to work for Edison directly. Within the next two decades, Tesla, working with Westinghouse and independently as an inventor, made a mark on the scientific community and in the public imagination. His experiments with electricity resulted in the invention of the Alternating Current (AC) that we use today. He was a pioneer in X-ray technology, remote control, and wireless communication. Wardenclyffe, Tesla’s laboratory and office from 1902 to 1906, represents the apex of Tesla’s career, during which he developed and promoted his idea for a “World Wireless System” which would transmit energy and telecommunications without wires. Unfortunately, his failure to perfect his ideas for wireless technology fast enough, as well as the success of Marconi’s telegraph system, led his backers to abandon him and led to his emotional and financial ruin. In 1915, he lost the heavily mortgaged property in his attempts to cover his debts. While Tesla continued to come up with new ideas, he was never able to rehabilitate his reputation and finances to secure another laboratory. Despite later twentieth century additions and alterations to the building, the laboratory is identifiable and understandable to Tesla’s period and remains a testament to the life, work and genius of Nikola Tesla and his impact on the international scientific community.