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Columbia University Digital Knowledge Ventures The Architecture and Development of New York City with Andrew S. Dolkart
image The Public Realm Early Private Buildings
Cooper Union
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Early Private Buildings
Cooper Union
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Cooper Union, a free school to train the children of the working class in engineering and mechanics and other industrial trades, so that they would go out and make their mark in the Industrial Revolution in America. Cooper Union was designed in 1859 by a German immigrant architect named [Frederick] Peterson, who was using the fashionable Italianate style and using brownstone on the façade, but structurally was extraordinarily innovative, because it was one of the first buildings to use rolled steel beams manufactured by Peter Cooper at his foundry in Trenton, New Jersey, so in a sense it's seen as a forerunner of the skyscraper because it, for the first time, is using steel in the building.

It also was built with an elevator shaft, although Otis had yet to perfect the passenger elevator. It was planned with the shaft and the elevator was to be put in later. Unfortunately, the early plans for elevators were for round elevators, so they put in a round elevator shaft, but once the elevators were manufactured they were rectangular, and so they had to build a separate shaft to actually put in an elevator. There is an elevator in the round shaft today, but it's not the original one.


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