Friday, October 7, 2011

Hidden in Plain Sight: Discover the Mechanics' Institute

As reported by graduate intern Kate Gilmore

Left, American Architect and Building News/Office for Metropolitan History;
G. Paul Burnett, via The New York Times

On its exterior, 20 West 44th Street is an imposing, majestic edifice (d
esigned by architects Lamb & Rich) on the National Register of Historic Buildings. Inside is one of New York's best kept secrets!

Inside the library's reading room.  Image via NYC

It is home to the Mechanics' Institute- the city's oldest technical school. Mechanic insitutues were originally created as a place for adult continuing education, and the coursework focused on technical skills. The New York Mechanics' Institute was founded in 1858 with the aim of providing "privately-endowed free evening instruction to respectable young men and women to improve themselves in their daily vocations."

The Mechanics' Institute still offers free continuing education.The Institute provides instruction in a variety of disciplines including electrical technology, facilities management, plumbing design and historic preservation. Courses are open to all, whether you're a curious individual looking to learn a new skill or a professional hoping to enhance your repertoire of knowledge. For more information, visit their website.

FUN FACT: 20 West 44th Street is also home to John M. Mossman Lock Museum, which has one of the largest collections of bank and vault locks.


Anonymous said...

These are great photos of a wonderful venue. I understand this is available for special events such as conferences, receptions and parties. In fact the Sustainable Building: Design and Tradition will be held there on October 21-22, 2011 -

Joseph said...

Another little known fact is that the Mechanics' Institute is a program of the even older General Society of Mechanics' & Tradesmen of the City of New York. Established in 1785 by the tradesmen of NYC to help protect the Widows and Children of tradespeople - it evolved into one of the premiere charities in the USA, with many programs to help people trying to make their lives better. Today it is still active, running the free school, the Apprentice's Library, and many cultural program - including a lecture series that dates back to 1837.