Of all the history surrounding Niagara, it’s surprising how often we neglect the War of the Currents. The deciding battle in the war of words, science and propaganda between inventors Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse played out within view of the Falls. Edison ferociously promoted direct current (DC) for electric power distribution while Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla championed alternating current. In Niagara, AC triumphed.
The electrification of North America began across the river in Niagara Falls, New York where Westinghouse and Tesla won the contract to build a power plant to harness the hydroelectric power of the falls. This facility, some of which still stands today, began generating in 1895. Edison and General Electric, who lost the bid to build the plant, were resigned to merely building the lines to transmit Tesla’s AC power down to Buffalo.
The monument to Tesla, which features the inventor perched atop an AC motor, dapper top hat and cane in hand, sits in Queen Victoria Park between Table Rock House and the building housing the Falls spotlights. It was erected on July 9th, of 2006 with the backing of hte local Serbian Community and governments in both Ontario and Serbia. The design is the work of Hamilton, Ontario sculptor Les Drysdale.