Our History

“Westbeth” began in 1967 when Westbeth Inc. purchased the former site of Bell Laboratories on the waterfront in New York’s Greenwich Village. The Westbeth plan, a novelty at the time, was to convert the empty facility into affordable work-live rental spaces for artists from all disciplines. The historic timeline below takes you from 1860 though the current renovation project. Read More.

1860

The first structure, Hook’s Steam-powered Factory Building, was built in 1860 at 445-453 West Street. It has housed a number of manufacturers over the decades.

The Western Electric Co. builds an office and factory building for telephone-related equipment at 455-465 West Street, 149 Bank Street, and 734-742 Washington Street.

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1896
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1898

This becomes the home of Bell Telephone Laboratories, which operated between 1898 and 1966.

The headquarters of Western Electric’s Engineering Department was opened at this site.

Wester Electric 1903
1913
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1923

Synchronized sound for motion pictures was developed at Western Electric.

In 1925, it became Bell Telephone Laboratories for both AT&T and the Western Electric Co. with the addition of 744-754 Washington Street and 151 Bank Street and the incorporation of the 1860 factory building.

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1925
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1934

From 1931-34 the New York Central Railroad’s elevated freight railway was built, running through the Washington Street building from the rail yards near Penn Station.

Bell Labs’ earlier research culminated in 1947 in one of its most famous
innovations, the transistor -- called “the single most significant electronic invention of the era.”

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1947
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1967

Bell Labs ceases operations in 1966. Jacob M. Kaplan and Roger Stevens conceive the Westbeth plan to convert the empty labs and offices into affordable work-live artist rentals.

Westbeth opens to its first residential tenants in 1971 in a neighborhood that was still an active wholesale market for the meat and restaurant business.

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1971

Westbeth is added to the National Register of Historic Places on Dec. 8, 2009.

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2009

Hurricane Sandy sweeps up the East Coast and destroys significant portions of Westbeth along with artwork stored at and below sea level. Major repair and reconstruction follows.

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2012
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2014

Construction work begins to address decades of deferred maintenance and to upgrade major systems and prepare Westbeth for its next century.