Libraries Round the World: The Cooper Union

Established in 1859, and officially The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, this private college borders the East Village in New York City.

Peter Cooper, a true American success story, founded this college. He built America’s first railroad steam engine and made his fortune in manufacturing and real estate. Cooper became one of the richest men in the United States and ran for president under the appropriately named Greenback Party.

This historic main site, called the Foundation Building, is an Italianate brownstone at Cooper Square and Astor Place. Cooper, a farsighted businessperson, predicted elevators would be commonplace, so this is the first building with an elevator shaft. The library is on the ground floor of the Cooper Union Foundation Building.

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln made a pre-election historic speech about the future of the country in the Great Hall located below the library. Many presidents since then, including Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, have lectured here.

In 2009, a controversial ultra-modern new building, to support the college’s expanding needs, replaced a smaller building across the street.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the Cooper Union is top-ranked in the 2018 edition of Best Colleges – Regional Colleges North. The college had about 900 undergrads, and fees for the 2016 school year fell into the mid-40’s. Initially, students were admitted tuition-free, and plans exist to offer this in the future. Despite increased costs, Cooper Union is highly competitive to enter.

You won’t find my novel AQUAVIT in their library, but you can find it here. Or request it from your local library through Overdrive.

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