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Tesla City

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian born inventor and engineer who is best known for his contributions to alternating current (AC) electrical transmission. He briefly worked with Thomas Edison, but the two had a well known parting of ways over AC/DC transmission known as the “War of Currents”. Nikola Tesla’s work has deep roots right here in Western New York.

2280 Niagara Street is home to Terminal A, the site of the world’s first Bulk Power Transmission Receiving Station which allowed Tesla’s three-phase alternating AC electrical transmission to travel and deliver electricity over long distances.

Terminal A received electrical transmission from the Adams Power Station in Niagara Falls, and was the critical midpoint electrical transformer station to conduct delivery to Buffalo, particularly the Pan American Exposition. Terminal A contained transmission equipment for overhead high voltage and outgoing lower voltage underground cables and it was the sole distribution point of Niagara Falls electricity within the City of Buffalo until Terminal Station B was built at Niagara and Busti in 1906 to supply the southern half of the City.

Terminal A’s historic significance was to prove that Tesla’s three phase AC electrical transmission to travel and deliver electricity over long distances was qualified as safe, efficient, and successful, thus adding credit to Tesla’s bid in winning the “War of Currents” over Edison’s DC transmission. Its humble brick shoebox of an edifice was not addressed for attention, but its very fact of safety and success proved we could have safe, quiet transformer buildings that conduct over long distances and forego the Edison alternative which required coal-burning furnaces at the end of every block, residential or commercial.

Tesla-Buffalo-Zimm-NY

In May 2012 the Buffalo Common Council declared 2280 Niagara Street to be classified as “an important area historical landmark site,” signifying its roots to the beginnings of electrical transmission.

Enter Bill Zimmerman, owner of Seven Seas Sailing of Buffalo and history buff with a fascination of Terminal A and Nikola Tesla. Zimmerman claims, “Since my teens I was fascinated by Nikola Tesla. He was always synonymous with a sense of spooky side-history, like Nostradamus and others, but he was never given scientific credibility in our textbooks. Stories about Tesla were often narrated by people like Orson Welles and given a mysterious dark side and questionable credibility. But his resurgence is regenerating an honest history about a brilliant man who invented our present and possibly much of our future.”

Photo of Bill (right) and Paul by Dr. Mark Donnelly
^Photo of Bill (right) and Paul, by Dr. Mark Donnelly

This fascination has led to Zimmerman’s vision of Tesla city, a three-phase three-year project to turn Terminal A into an interactive museum complex including a Tesla-themed brewery and beer garden restaurant. Zimmerman purchased the property at 2280 Niagara Street with his friend and restaurateur Paul Tsouflidis, owner of Acropolis Restaurant and Newbury Street. Zimmerman is happy to have Tsouflidis as partner stating, “Paul is such an innovator and grasps Buffalo’s huge entrepreneurial scene but also knows and cares about people. He loves this project and that’s exciting for both of us.” According to Zimmerman, the duo foresees the project with an Epcot vision, “hoping to combine education and entertainment to achieve growth and sustainability.”

Zimmerman states, “Just like Tesla’s three-phase current, our project is envisioned in three phases of development. The first phase begins with the construction of the interior museum and brewery. The second phase will be an exterior glassed auditorium, with a three-floor glassed elevator reaching the rooftop, where the third phase will feature a glassed Tesla Terrace restaurant expansion with beautiful views of the river and Niagara Falls. Our proximity to the 190 is a natural fit to be a center point for tourists from both Buffalo and Niagara Falls. We stay in touch with the folks in Niagara Falls who are seeking funding for a Tesla Museum at the Adams Power Station, and hope that their and our success will interact in many collaborative ways.  The key to the Tesla resurgence is collaboration, hence we called our Facebook page Nikola TESLA Collaborative.”

Tesla-Museum-Buffalo-NY-1Scott Wood is a Buffalo Native and one of the country’s top museum designers who has studied Tesla for over 20 years. Wood just signed on as museum designer. Zimmerman and Tsouflidis are excited with the commitment from Wood knowing that his museum design experience and extensive knowledge and research of Tesla will result in an extraordinary space.

Zimmerman hopes to include his passion for sailing and boating in the project by involving Seven Seas Sailing of Buffalo as well. Wood too is a watersports enthusiast and avid kayaker. Zimmerman and Wood have worked together on watersports expos over the years and are hopeful about the prospect of combining their shared passions for the water and Tesla. Just over the 190 from Tesla City lies a restored Ontario Street Boat Launch and visitors park, whereby a park walkway sneaks underneath the viaduct and leads directly to a short walk to Tesla City. They plan to do boat tours from downtown to the museum site and offer tourists and guests a whole day package of sailing, beer tasting and museum exploring.

To keep abreast of this project and to learn more about Nikola Tesla, like their Facebook page by clicking here.

The three-year project is scheduled to begin in the Spring of 2016. When the first phase of the brewery opens, all involved will be happy to sip the first pour of their house brew that will likely be called Edison Bitter Ale. Join in the journey and the first sip.

Written by Holly Metz Doyle

Holly Metz Doyle

A Buffalo native, Holly spent quite a bit of time traveling the globe, but after living on the West coast for a bit was called back to her roots in Western New York. She tries to devote as much of her time doing the things she loves most, enjoying the outdoors, hanging out with her two daughters Sophie and Amelia, playing with her family's many rescued animals, checking out estate sales and old houses, crossfitting and, of course, writing.

View All Articles by Holly Metz Doyle
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  • Stateofmind

    Very interesting, but is it a brewer/restaurant that has a museum or a museum that has a brewery/restaurant component? I hope the latter, but I fear the former, given some of the involvement. 
    Hybrid for profit/non-profit models can be innovative (and important to sustain the latter). It’s all in the execution, however. If not done sensibly, it becomes a tacky, gimmicky theme park….

  • Hollyd141

    Stateofmind My understanding is that will undoubtedly be a museum with a brewery and restaurant 🙂

  • Flyguy2pt0

    Awesome in so many ways. I hope this works and the branding and historic nature of the brewery bldg sells itself. Great pairing of history and recreation. Love it.

  • EAHS 1972

    Thanks for keeping us current.

  • Rodney Copperbottom

    Great idea, but kind of bland on the building. I realize the whole purpose of this is to find reuse to a “historic” building, but that brick… it’s so terrible.

  • buffalomick15

    Scott Wood? From Scott Wood’s Solid Gold fame?

  • Stateofmind
    possible precedent is the cafe inside the naval museum at canalside.

  • armyof100clowns

    Yes, folks, EAHS 1972 is here all week! Please don’t forget to try the Salisbury steak!
    Love it (your pun and the project)!

  • AmandaPearson

    Despite being outnumbered by whites five to one, blacks commit eight times more crimes against whites than vice-versa, according to http://news.yahoo.com/black-americas-real-problem-isnt-white-racism-070000529.html. A black male is 40 times as likely to assault a white person as the reverse. These figures also show that interracial rape is almost exclusively black on white.

  • AmandaPearson

    grad94 Stateofmind Despite being outnumbered by whites five to one, blacks commiteight times more crimes against whites than vice-versa, according to http://news.yahoo.com/black-americas-real-problem-isnt-white-racism-070000529.html. A black male is 40 times as likely to assault a white person as the reverse. These figures also show that interracial rape is almost exclusively black on white.

  • janreimers

    Beer always makes a trip to the museum better.

  • jim1234664

    I cringe every time I see a ________ City or ________ Village. We hit critical mass on these a long time ago.
    Does anyone with some money in this town have taste?
    What gives?

  • NBuffGuy

    EAHS 1972 
    I got a real charge from your comment.

  • Ivan putski jr

    jim1234664 good call…similarly, I hate when things are branded in advance and not allowed to evolve on their own organically. Like the Cobblestone District…i get that  a few of the roads are cobblestone which makes them unique, but declaring it a district when for the longest time it was just some empty parking lots for HSBC arena and Morrisseys Pub seemed kind of lame

  • JayDBuffalo

    Ivan putski jr jim1234664 I think complaining about insignificant things is lame.

  • jim1234664

    JayDBuffalo Ivan putski jr jim1234664
    Come on down to Complaint City in the Pierce Arrow Village and we’ll talk it out

  • Stateofmind

    jim1234664 Buffalo–built by kings, inherited by the proletariat.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    “Of all the endless variety of phenomena which nature presents to our senses, there is none that fills our minds with greater wonder than that inconceivably complex movement which, in its entirety, we designate as human life; Its mysterious origin is veiled in the forever impenetrable mist of the past, its character is rendered incomprehensible by its infinite intricacy, and its destination is hidden in the unfathomable depths of the future.”–Tesla.  Poetry.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    “Of all the endless variety of phenomena which nature presents to our senses, there is none that fills our minds with greater wonder than that inconceivably complex movement which, in its entirety, we designate as human life; Its mysterious origin is veiled in the forever impenetrable mist of the past, its character is rendered incomprehensible by its infinite intricacy, and its destination is hidden in the unfathomable depths of the future.”–Tesla.  Poetry.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    “Edison Bitter Ale”–nice

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    “Edison Bitter Ale”–nice

  • Ivan putski jr
    for what its worth, the cobblestone district comes by its name honestly. it has been a local landmark district since 1994.
    http://www.buffaloah.com/a/landmks/cob.html

  • Ivan putski jr
    for what its worth, the cobblestone district comes by its name honestly. it has been a local landmark district since 1994.
    http://www.buffaloah.com/a/landmks/cob.html

  • Captain Picard

    jim1234664 

    lol

  • Captain Picard

    jim1234664 

    lol

  • buffloonitick

    how about a brew named Teslas’ Midnight Lightning

  • buffloonitick

    Matt Marcinkiewicz
    “If you only knew the magnificence of the 3, 6 and 9, then you would have a key to the universe.”
    -Tesla

  • buffloonitick

    EAHS 1972
    you should be grounded for a week for that…

  • EAHS 1972

    buffloonitick EAHS 1972 Flipping you off …

  • Ivan putski jr

    JayDBuffalo Ivan putski jr jim1234664 i just verbalize what everyone else is thinking but are afraid to say…like Don Cherry telling it the way it is

  • buffloonitick

    EAHS 1972 buffloonitick
    that turns me on…

  • armyof100clowns

    Tesla was an absolute genius that history, I believe by design, relegated to footnote status. I’m glad this is changing.
    I dig this project. The idea of a brewery/restaurant and museum being coupled together is not new and has been successfully pulled off in other cities. Some examples where the restaurant feeds (see what I did there EAHS 1972?) the museum and vice-versa include Gertrude’s at the Baltimore Museum of Art, Encantada at the American Visionary Art Museum, and the (although closed and replaced by the sub-par Castle Cafe cafeteria) restaurant that used to be in the Smithsonian Castle/Information Center.
    Now – please don’t take this as a completely nasty comment, but that rendering is awful. It reminds me of the wacky graphics from DEVO’s “Adventures of the Smart Patrol” video game.
    I really hope this project has legs and comes to fruition.

  • Cirris

    buffloonitick already a micro brew with that name.

  • Cirris

    buffloonitick already a micro brew with that name.

  • buffloonitick

    Cirris buffloonitick
    ok, thanks. shows you how up to speed i am on microbrews.

  • Nickel_City

    More green urban farms to go with the plentiful local breweries and an expanded culinary charter school and pretty soon you can have restaurants that are 100% dependent on Buffalo product/services. That’s pretty cool

  • Nickel_City

    More green urban farms to go with the plentiful local breweries and an expanded culinary charter school and pretty soon you can have restaurants that are 100% dependent on Buffalo product/services. That’s pretty cool