The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (7 East 7th St.) is the greatest legacy left by the self-made industrialist Peter Cooper. At his time he was one of the wealthiest businessmen in America, having worked his way to the top through successful ventures in real estate, railroads, the telegraph, and the invention of gelatin. Cooper was the son of a workingman, and had less than one year of formal schooling. Near the end of his life he decided to form a school to provide similarly talented and underprivileged persons with what he always desired: a good education. He dedicated most of his real estate holdings, which today include parcels such as the land the Chrysler building occupies, to an endowment that would perpetually fund the school. Incidentally, in a real estate transaction that was settled only a couple years before the current real estate downturn, the Cooper Union renegotiated their lease with Tishman Speyer for a deal where the annual rent in 2018 would escalate to $325 million, and by 2038 would reach $550 million. 

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