The 13 building complex at 463 West Street was originally home to Western Electric factory, which was taken over by the Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1925. The Laboratories remained at West Street until 1966 and became the largest industrial research center in the United States. In the complex, many technologies were developed including automatic telephone panel switches, talking movies, black and white and color TV, video telephones, vaccum tube, transistor, the phonograph record and some of the first commercial broadcasts. During WWII the Laboratories also housed part of the Manhattan Project.
In 1970, the buildings were repurposed and reeopened as a subsidized housing complex for artists called Westbeth Artists Community. The complex is one of the first examples of adaptive building reuse, as developers under the direction of Dixon Blain turned research spaces into dual live-work quarters for artists of all disciplines, a purpose for which the complex still serves.
Westbeth was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.