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Pratt Institute

Pratt Institute is a private, nonsectarian, non-profit institution of higher learning located in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, United States, with a satellite campus located at 14th Street in Manhattan. It originated in 1887 with programs primarily in engineering, architecture, and fine arts.



200 Willoughby Ave
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The Cannoneer
Black And Cadmium Yellow
Hudson Valley

College History


Pratt Institute was founded in 1887 by American industrialist Charles Pratt, who was a successful businessman and oil tycoon and was one of the wealthiest men in the history of Brooklyn. Pratt was an early pioneer of the natural oil industry in the United States and was the founder of Astral Oil Works based in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, New York which was a leader in replacing whale oil with petroleum or natural oil. In 1867 Pratt established Charles Pratt and Company. In 1874 Pratt�s companies were purchased by John D. Rockefeller and became part of his Standard Oil trust while Pratt continued to run the companies himself. Regardless of his immense wealth, Pratt wanted to give others the opportunity to improve their own lives. He constantly built a number of public projects, such as apartment complexes (including the Astral Apartments) and banks for those who could not afford them. However, Pratt, an advocate of education, wanted to provide the opportunity for working men and women to better their lives through education. Even though Pratt never had the opportunity to go to college himself, he wanted to create an affordable college accessible to the working class. In 1884 Pratt began purchasing parcels of land in his affluent home town of Clinton Hill for the intention of opening a school. The school would end up being built only two blocks from Charles Pratt�s residence on Clinton Avenue. From his fortunes with Astral Oil and Charles Pratt and Company, in 1886 he endowed and founded Pratt Institute. In May 1887 the New York State Legislature granted Charles Pratt a charter to open the school and on October 17, 1887 the Institute opened to 12 students in Main Hall. Tuition was $4 per class per term (equivalent to $95 today). One of the more remarkable aspects of the college was the fact that it was one of the first colleges in the country open to all people, regardless of class, color, and gender. In the early years, the Institute�s mission was to offer education to those who never had it offered to them before. Pratt sought to teach people skills that would allow them to be successful and work their way up the economic ladder. Specifically, many programs were tailored for the growing need to train industrial workers in the changing economy with training in design and engineering. Early programs sought to teach students a variety of subjects such as architectural engineering, mechanics, dressmaking, and furniture making. Graduates of the school were taught to become engineers, mechanics, and technicians. Drawing, whether freehand, mechanical, or architectural, thought of as being a universal language, united such diverse programs and thus all programs in the school had a strong foundation in drawing. In addition, the curriculum at the Institute was to be complimented by with a large Liberal Arts curriculum. Students studied subjects such as history, mathematics, physics, and literature in order to better understand the world which they will be working in. Such a strong foundation in Liberal Arts continues at the school today). Early years Main Hall Enrollment grew steadily since inception. Six months after inception the school had an enrollment of nearly 600 students. By the first anniversary of the school there were 1,000 students in attendance. In five years time the school had nearly 4,000 students. In 1888 Scientific American said of the school that �it is undoubtedly the most important enterprise of its kind in this country, if not in the world�. Andrew Carnegie even visited Pratt for inspiration and used the school as a model in developing Carnegie Technical Schools, now Carnegie Mellon University. At the first Founders Day celebration in 1888, Charles Pratt addressed what would become the school�s motto: �be true to your work and your work will be true to you� meaning that students should educate and develop themselves diligently and go out into the world working hard, giving all of themselves. Pratt Institute Kindergarten, 1905 As public interest grew in the school and demand increased the school began adding new programs including the Pratt High School, Library School, Music Department, and Department of Commerce. Because of the overwhelming popularity of the Department of Commerce, the department broke off from the main Institute and formed its own school, under the guidance of Norman P. Heffley, personal secretary to Charles Pratt.The Heffley School of Commerce, formed from Pratt�s Department of Commerce, originally shared facilities with Pratt and until the school evolved into what today is Brooklyn Law School. In 1891, the Institute�s founder and first president, Charles Pratt, passed away and his eldest son, Charles Millard Pratt assumed responsibility of president for the school. In 1893, Charles Pratt�s other son, Frederic B. Pratt was elected President of Pratt Institute taking over from his elder brother. Because Charles Pratt Snr. died so soon after the college was founded, Frederic Pratt is ascribed with guiding the college through its early decades. Under the direction of Pratt�s sons, the Institute was able to thrive both financially and critically with many new construction projects and course offerings. By 1892 the number of students enrolled was 3,900. In 1897 the most popular major for students was domestic arts. In 1896, the school opened its monumental Victorian-Renaissance Revival library with elegant interiors designed by Tiffany & Co. and sprawling gardens outside the library. The library was designed not only for students but rather for the public as well. The Pratt Institute Library was the first and only public library in Brooklyn for nearly 15 years. In addition, the library served as a working laboratory, training future librarians and is cited as being one of the first library schools. In addition, the Pratt Institute Library opened the first reading room dedicated to children in all of New York City.

College Specialty


The mission of Pratt Institute is to educate artists and creative professionals to be responsible contributors to society. Pratt seeks to instill in all graduates aesthetic judgment, professional knowledge, collaborative skills, and technical expertise. With a firm grounding in the liberal arts and sciences, a Pratt education blends theory with creative application in preparing graduates to become leaders in their professions. Pratt enrolls a diverse group of highly talented and dedicated students, challenging them to achieve their full potential.



Urban 25 acres (10 hectares)