Early Years of the Pratt Institute


[Pratt Institute blacksmith students], circa 1905, SCHL_1603; Brooklyn Daily Eagle photographs, Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History. 

Today’s Photo of the Week looks at a classroom in the early years of the Pratt Institute. The school was founded by businessman and philanthropist Charles Pratt, who envisioned a school for working-class people to get hands-on experience in industrial trades, arts, and engineering. The school opened in 1887, just a few blocks from Pratt’s home at 232 Clinton Avenue. Starting with only twelve students enrolled in freehand and mechanical drawing classes, enrollment grew to nearly 1,000 students by the end of the first year.

By the time this photo was taken, the Pratt Institute was already gaining a reputation as one of the best art schools in the county, but it also offered courses in domestic arts, sciences, and education. The school began to attract students from outside of New York City, but did not offer dormitories or dining halls. There were several clubs with clubhouses available to students and a “rest house” staffed with a nurse for illnesses and injury. The Pratt Free Library was open to both students and the general public, offering over 100,000 titles by 1912. 

Interested in seeing more photos from CBH’s collections? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images, or the digital collections portal at Brooklyn Public Library. We look forward to inviting you to CBH in the future to research in our entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections. In the meantime, please visit our resources page to search our collections. Questions? Our reference staff is available to help with your research! You can reach us at cbhreference@bklynlibrary.org.


This blog post reflects the opinions of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of Brooklyn Public Library.


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