In Queen Victoria Park there resides a figure of one of the greatest scientific minds, watching over the waters which were so important to one of his greatest achievements. Scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla (1856–1943), a brilliant electrical engineer, developed a system of alternating current (AC) which enabled power from Niagara Falls to be transmitted great distances. Prior to Tesla’s discovery, electricity was sent by direct current (DC) no more than 100 yards (91 meters), yielding only enough power to light a bulb.
In his biography, Tesla remembered how the giant waterfall excited his mind as a kid. Hearing Niagara Falls described, Tesla “pictured in my imagination a big wheel run by the Falls.” He even told his uncle that someday he would “go to America and carry out this scheme.” Tesla’s childhood dream came true, but it took some doing.
Once completed, Tesla’s generators produced 50,000 horsepower, a tremendous amount of power for that time. On November 16th, 1896, the switch was thrown, sending power to Buffalo, NY. The Niagara Falls Gazette reported that "The turning of a switch in the big powerhouse at Niagara completed a circuit which caused the Niagara River to flow uphill."
Tesla spoke at the opening of the Niagara Falls hydroelectric power station and noted their achievement from a historical perspective, calling the station “a monument worthy of our scientific age”:
“We have many a monument of past ages; we have the palaces and pyramids, the temples of the Greek and the cathedrals of Christendom,” said Tesla. “In them is exemplified the power of men, the greatness of nations, the love of art and religious devotion. But the monument at Niagara has something of its own, more in accord with our present thoughts and tendencies. It is a monument worthy of our scientific age, a true monument of enlightenment and of peace. It signifies the subjugation of natural forces to the service of man, the discontinuance of barbarous methods, the relieving of millions from want and suffering.”
Now, the inventor of alternating current has his own monument overlooking the Horseshoe Falls at Niagara Falls, Canada. There is a statue of this genius found near the Table Rock area at Niagara Falls. The monument shows Tesla standing with a cane atop on of his AC motors. The sculpture, sponsored by the St. George Serbian Orthodox Church of Niagara, is the winning design of Les Drysdale, from Hamilton, Ontario. This monument is one of the greatest recognitions of Nikola Tesla's work.
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