In 1891, Nikola Tesla established his Houston Street laboratory. Tesla lit vacuum tubes wirelessly in the lab, providing evidence for the potential of wireless power transmission. By 1892, Tesla experimented with certain X-ray characteristics. He performed several experiments (including taking photographs of the bones of his hand). Much of Tesla's research was lost in the 1895 Houston Street lab fire.
The street was widened in the late 19th century, which resulted in numerous small empty lots on both sides of the street where buildings were demolished. These lots are now used by vendors and some have been turned into community gardens.
The street name Houston (SAMPA /"haUst@n/) confuses many people from outside of New York because the letters "ou" are pronounced as in the word house, whereas the same letters in the name of the city of Houston, Texas (SAMPA /"hju:st@n/ or /"ju:st@n/) are pronounced like the "u" in huge. This is due to the fact that Houston Street was named for a Georgia politician, William Houstoun (1755-1813) (note that the spelling is different), long before the fame of Sam Houston who is honored by the name of the Texas city.