Education: Free of Charge

In 1859 self-made Millionaire Peter Cooper opened a free school in what was then midtown Manhattan to "improve and elevate the working classes of the City of New York" and to be "forever devoted to the advancement of science and art, in their application to the varied and useful purposes of life."

To house his school, which he named Cooper Union, the wealthy inventor (a washing machine, the "Tom Thumb" locomotive, a musical cradle that rocked itself) and iron and glue manufacturer had built a handsome five-story structure on Astor Place, hired 21 faculty members. Two thousand artisans and working girls enrolled...

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