Alfred H. Grebe (1895-1935) spent most of his life within a few miles of his birthplace in the Richmond Hill community of New York City, in the Borough of Queens, about ten miles due east of Greenwich Village. His grandfather had purchased a large plot of land along Van Wyck Boulevard, bounded by Jamaica Avenue and Archer Avenue. Alfred grew up in his parents' house on that property.
Alfred was a child prodigy, exhibiting a keen aptitude for radio. At the age
of nine, his father bought him a simple set, and this sparked a life-long
interest. He studied electricity with such passion that his knowledge soon
eclipsed that of his teacher at P.S. 88 in Jamaica. After graduation, Alfred
attended the Jamaica Training School, then attended a commercial radio school
in Manhattan. After demonstrating his abilities by obtaining a commercial
radio license at the age of 15, Alfred took a position as a radioman on a
commercial steamer, and completed a year-long voyage to India. He spent three
years in the merchant marine.
Alfred's attention then turned inland, taking a position as an operator at the new radio station at Sayville on Long Island. During this time he began building components for fellow experimenters and friends involved in the fledgling radio industry. Thus was born the Grebe Radio Company. The company was initially located in a one-story shack behind his Van Wyck Boulevard home (photo on the right).
The business grew rapidly, and he issued his first catalog in 1914. Shortly thereafter, the shack was expanded to a two-story structure (photo on the left) due to high demand for his quality products.
The house was replaced in 1922 by the manufacturing plant (top photo) which was the Grebe Radio Company, later the Grebe Radio and Television Company. The towers for broadcast station WAHG (Alfred's initials) can be seen atop the building. Station WBOQ (Borough of Queens) was soon added to Alfred's broadcasting empire, and another tower sprouted atop the building. He operated several other stations in the experimental and commercial services.
Alfred died at the age of 40 due to complications from abdominal surgery.
All photos: Synchrophase User's Manual 1926