Outdoor Renovations Complete at Historic Transformer Building

Nov 27, 2023 3:30 PM ET

National Grid has completed renovations at the former Niagara Falls Power Transfer Station, an historic landmark that now includes a pedestrian walkway and interactive, educational information about the building, which links to the earliest days of pioneering electricity engineering technology.

In the 1890s, Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse worked together to build the world’s first hydro-electric power plant, in Niagara Falls. It was Tesla’s theory, technology and inventions that made the idea of alternating current a reality in Western New York, in America and eventually, the world.

The building dates to 1895 and is also referred to as the North Tonawanda Transformer Building. Located at 521 Robinson St., it was one of many important components in Tesla’s plan to capture the power of Niagara Falls to produce electricity and send it over long distances. On Nov. 15, 1896 the transmission of alternating current from Niagara Falls traveled 23 miles to Buffalo, passing through the transformer building along the way.

In recent years National Grid staff began discussing the then-vacant transformer building, and how it could be used to better serve customers. That's because it seemed an ideal location to store equipment and serve as a hub for work crews, who could be deployed across parts of Niagara and Erie counties.

But first, it needed some renovations.

"We replaced some roof tiles, and a lot of brick on the building that had broken off and cracked,” said National Grid Regional Director Ken Kujawa. “And as we were considering the level of physical work that the building required we asked ourselves, ‘How can we honor its history?"

So, as the company decided to pay homage to Tesla and Westinghouse. Images of both men are now included among graphic window panels that in 2022 adorned the outside walls. Additional discussions resulted in decisions to landscape and pave an area that allows pedestrians to get closer to see the building’s new artwork and a plaque that commemorates the work done by Tesla and Westinghouse. The plaque includes a QR code that points visitors to this web page, where they can learn more.

More information about the building’s history and the work performed in the region by Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse is available here:

* WGRZ-TV story transformer building history

* Niagara Parks Power Station – Tesla patents

* Tesla Memorial Society of New York

* Visit Buffalo Niagara – honoring Tesla’s work

About National Grid

National Grid (NYSE: NGG) is an electricity, natural gas, and clean energy delivery company serving more than 20 million people through our networks in New York and Massachusetts. National Grid is focused on building a smarter, stronger, cleaner energy future — transforming our networks with more reliable and resilient energy solutions to meet state climate goals and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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