The Great Hall

The Great Hall The Great Hall in 1865 Lincoln's Cooper Union Address in 1860 President Clinton spoke at the 2006 Commencement Ceremony In 2008 President Obama, then a senator, gave a speech in The Great Hall
The Great Hall

Upcoming Events & Exhibitions

  • An Evening with M. Lamar

    An Evening with M. Lamar

    M. Lamar, who explores, "narratives of radical racial and sexual becomings," performs and discusses his work in a free, public event

  • Author Talk: Sinatra's Century

    Author Talk: Sinatra's Century

    In a free, public event the poet and critic David Lehman discusses his new book, "Sinatra's Century: One Hundred Notes on the Man and His World,"

  • Homage to Dore Ashton

    Homage to Dore Ashton

    Celebrate the work of renowned art critic Dore Ashton through selected readings of her publications, short papers inspired by her writings and a new video by Alfredo Jaar.

  • The Orchestra Now

    The Orchestra Now

    An innovative training orchestra and master’s degree program at Bard College, The Orchestra Now will play works by Mozart, Weiner, Schumann & Ligeti in a free concert

The Great Hall of The Cooper Union has stood for more than a century as a bastion of free speech and a witness to the flow of American History and ideas. When the hall opened in 1858, more than a year in advance of the completion of the institution, it quickly became a mecca for all interested in serious discussion and debate of the vital issues of the day.

The Great Hall was the platform for some of the earliest workers' rights campaigns and for the birth of the NAACP, the women's suffrage movement and the American Red Cross. To the Great Hall's podium has come a pageant of famous Americans — rebels and reformers, poets and presidents. Before they were elected, Presidents Lincoln, Grant, Cleveland, Taft, Theodore Roosevelt and Barack Obama all spoke there. Besides Woodrow Wilson, only one incumbent president has spoken in the Great Hall: William Jefferson Clinton, who, on May 12, 1993, delivered a major economic address on reducing the federal deficit. And, during the past century's times of tremendous upheaval, it was through meetings in Cooper's famous auditorium that the politics and legislation necessary to build a humane city took shape.

The Great Hall is located in The Foundation Building, 7 East 7th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues.

The Great Hall can be rented for events. For inquiries about renting The Great Hall contact Christine Sarkissian, manager, rental programs, at 212-353-4196 or

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.