Famous inventor honoured with statues on both sides of Niagara Falls

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Published May 30, 2023 at 4:23 pm

The spot where the Nikola Tesla statue is in Niagara Falls, overlooking the Horseshoe Falls, is said to be the exact same spot as a photo was taken that first inspired his interest in hydro-electricity.

One very brilliant man, two separate statues – one in Niagara Falls, Ontario, the other Niagara Falls, New York.

It’s rare that the two countries have similar statues given how varied our two histories are but then again, an inventor with a brilliant mind like Nikola Testa is also something of a rarity.

As such, both sides of Niagara Falls have starkly different statues dedicated to the man behind the creation of alternating current, which allowed electricity to actually become a practical tool of humanity.

It was on the American side that Tesla first viewed Niagara Falls, thinking of the possibility of generating electricity but with 90 per cent of the water flow from the Niagara River, he was gazing at a photo of the Horseshoe Falls when the idea was being earlier formulated.

Tesla and American businessman George Westinghouse built the first hydro-electric power plant in the world in Niagara Falls, New York and started the electrification of the world.

In the mid 1890s, Tesla developed a system of alternating current (AC) which enabled power from Niagara Falls to be transmitted great distances. The system was put into use on November 15, 1896 when electric power was transmitted from Niagara Falls to Buffalo.

Prior to Tesla’s discovery, electricity was sent by direct current (DC) no more than 100 yards, yielding only enough power to light a bulb. His invention of AC power changed the way electricity was used throughout the world.

Many of Tesla’s ideas were incorporated into the creation of the now-refurbished, tourist attraction, Niagara Falls Power Station. Back then in the early 1900s, of course, it a functional hydro generator using the same principles to send electricity from Niagara Falls to Toronto and all points in between.

Hence, he has statues on both sides of Niagara Falls. The Canadian statue, considered a little more dashing, sits on the edge on Queen Victoria Park (6342 Niagara Parkway) and shows the inventor standing up with a cane, looking quite dashing as wind blows the back of his long coat away.

Created by Canadian Les Drysdale, it was unveiled in 2006 on what would have been Tesla’s 150th birthday and it stands on the exact spot where a photograph had been taken of Horseshoe Falls that Tesla later said inspired him to invent hydroelectric power.


The Nikola Tesla on the left is the Canadian one; on the right is the American one situated on Goat
Island. As the crow flies, the two statues are roughly 2.4 kilometres (1.5 miles) apart.

The American statue is situated on Goat Island, the American piece of land that divides the Horseshoe Falls from the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. A gift from Yugoslavia to the United States in 1976, the bronze statue is the work of Croatian sculptor Frano Krsinic and is situated through the entrance arch of the old Niagara Falls power plant that Tesla helped build.Tesla, although giant-size, looks angular and unfinished, He sits in a big chair, wearing what look like rubberized overalls. His head is bowed, and he’s reading what appear to be blueprints in his lap. It’s Tesla as a science geek, not the madman media darling that everyone loves today.

To the American side’s credit, that was the first Tesla statue to appear in North America.

Here, Niagara Parks explains how Tesla’s vision was incorporated into the building of the Niagara Falls Power Station.

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