Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cooper Union

NYC - East Village: The Cooper Union Foundation Building
I've been researching Peter Cooper and Cooper Union for one my characters in book three. You may have heard of Cooper Union in New York, famous for so many reasons. Abraham Lincoln spoke there on his way to becoming president. Thomas Edison was a student.

Cooper Union, still educating students today, was innovative at the time almost beyond belief. Women and blacks were admitted before the Civil War. There was a free reading room library before the New York Public Library was built. Supported by investors the likes of Andrew Carnegie the school was free (it still is, but recently it was announced that may soon change.)

Peter Cooper was quite a character and I'm tempted to drift away from the research I need to be doing to learn all about him.

For instance, these glasses! Four lenses. I googled and found some examples. Andrew Jackson had a similar pair it seems, but I still think they were unusual.

We see them reappearing as steampunk, unusually colored like sunglasses and more like goggles. Peter's glasses, though? Bi-focals, maybe? The man invented so many things, from the locomotive steam engine to Jello, so I wonder if he made these.



And then I found a new invention that I thought was wonderful. And then I thought I'd share what I found and then get back to what I really should be doing!