Nikola Tesla in Chicago

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Statue of the Republic
Statue of the Republic

Many know of Tesla's visit to Chicago where he and George Westinghouse proved the superiority of Tesla's Polyphase System by powering the 1893 World's Fair, or Columbian Exposition as it was also called. Some, however, may not know that Tesla made at least two other trips there years later. I was recently in Chicago and took time to visit some of the remaining places related to Tesla.

The first stop was The Republic, a.k.a. Golden Lady. This statue is a replica of the original which stood 65 feet high in the central focus of the Grand Basin Gateway Court of Honor at the Columbian Exposition. The 24-foot-high replica was produced by Daniel Chester French who also created the original statue. The replica stands in the Hayes-Richards Circle on the opposite side of the Grand Basin site from where the original stood and was created to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Exposition. Even though the replica is much smaller than the original, it's still a magnificent site.

Tesla visited Chicago again in May of 1899 where he lectured and demonstrated his radio-controlled boat before the Chicago Commercial Club. There does not seem to be a lot of information about this visit or where the lecture and demonstration took place.

In late 1917, Tesla returned to Chicago to work for the Pyle National Company where he continued to perfect his bladeless turbines. The Pyle National Company appears to now be defunct, but the building they were supposedly in since 1916 still stands at 1334 N. Kostner Ave. This was my next stop and while there wasn't much to see there, it's another landmark checked off my list.

Tesla worked for Pyle National for a little over a year and lived in the prestigious Blackstone Hotel during this time. The Blackstone is located on the corner of Michigan Ave. and Balbo St. and was my final stop. The hotel has been remodeled numerous times over the years, and there is apparently no record of which room Tesla stayed in while he was there. I snapped a few photos and remembered how Marc Seifer wrote of Tesla walking from the hotel to what remained of the Court of Honor and finding the worn but still standing statue of The Republic. I was happy that I had the opportunity to visit the same places.

See all the Chicago photos here.

If you know of further details or information related to Tesla's visits to Chicago, please comment on this post.

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