July 10, 2011 - Happy Birthday, Nikola Tesla

I was marveling at the power of the Niagara Falls, just a few days ago, feeling the spray and mist, hearing the thunder of millions of gallons of water falling 60 to 180 feet and pulverizing the rocks below, and seeing the green-blue water froth white with speed and impact. If you ever get a chance to see Niagara Falls, go for it!

As I walked away from the falls, I saw a large statue of a man perched on a stool, reading or studying a plan or something. I ran to see who the statue depicted—and I was startled to see it was scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla!

What is a statue of this man, who was an ethnic Serb, born on this day in 1856 in the Austrian Empire, which became Yugoslavia and is now Croatia—what is a statue of Nikola Tesla doing here in Niagara Falls, NY, USA?

Apparently Tesla came to the U.S. in 1884. He built the first hydro-electric plant in Niagara Falls, and (according to the Tesla Memorial Society of NY), this was the “final victory of Tesla's Alternating Current over [Thomas] Edison's Direct Current.” At one time, the Niagara Falls power plant was the largest in the world. 

By the way, the Canadian side of Niagara Falls has a statue of Tesla, too. Rather than looking academic, this statue depicts Tesla in quite a dashing pose, holding onto his top hat and flourishing his cane. There are plaques and other memorials in the area devoted to Tesla, as well!

I do love to see a memorial created to a scientist rather than a warrior!

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