Welcome to Curbed's ongoing series titled Hidden History, where Curbed highlights a Bay Area location with a secret past. Maybe it's no longer there, maybe it's been converted into something else, but each spot holds a place in Bay Area history - even if not many people know it. Have a suggestion or know a place with a secret history? The tipline's always open or you can leave a comment after the jump.
Farnsworth with one of his early television sets, 1935 [Photo: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY]
202 Green Street is an unassuming building in the Northeast Waterfront District at the base of Telegraph Hill. Looking at it, you'd never assume that you owe your binge sessions of Game of Thrones and Real Housewives to a scientist who once worked there. In 1927, a scientist named Philo Taylor Farnsworth invented and patented the first operational all-electronic television system.
Philo Farnsworth was only 21 years old when he and his team (including his wife Pem) transmitted the first all-electronic television image. The labs were located on the second floor of the existing building, with a carpentry shop and a garage on the ground floor. Not exactly the high-tech super lab you'd imagine as the birthplace of tv. The first transmission was just a blurry line transmitted from one room in the office to another, but repeated tests eventually lead to transmitting shapes and images. A few years later, signals reached all the way to the Merchants' Exchange Building 8 blocks away on Battery and Washington.
202 Green Street, home to the lab where television was invented [Photo: NoeHill]
The 1923 building became a California Historical Landmark in 1971, the same year Farnsworth died. It's also a contributor to the local Northeast Waterfront Historic District.