So, what’d all this cost?

Ed bldg colonnade 1

Chancellor Whitelaw Reid, at the State Education Building’s dedication ceremonies in 1912, said,

“We are proud that the great structure comes to us absolutely free. There is no debt on it. They issued no bonds for it and anticipated no income. The people of New York have equipped their Board of Regents and Department of Education with these new and greatly enlarged facilities for conducting the business with which they have charged us, close on the heels of our misfortune; and they paid for it as they went along, out of the current revenues of the State. They paid for it completely. For once the cost of a public building of the first class has been kept within the estimates and within the appropriations. This is said to be an era of big prices, and especially the expense of building is said to be far higher than formerly, but this building has cost barely one-fifth of the one opposite. In round numbers, our Education Building has cost the State five millions of dollars, as against the twenty-five millions for the State Capitol.”

The “misfortune” he referred to was the loss of the State Library in the State Capitol fire the year before. He went on to assess the relative importance of education to the state, as measured by spending:

“I have already acknowledged the munificent support we have lately received from the State in our special emergency. But I wonder how generally it is realized by our citizens or even by this audience that the people of this State regularly spend more, and more freely, for their schools than for any other object; three times as much, in fact, as for all other branches of government combined – legislative, judicial, penal, reformatory, charitable, curative, agricultural, defensive, and all the rest. In round numbers the State appropriates eight and one-half millions for its schools – a million more than for any other object … The amounts raised for the same purpose by special local taxation in every school district in the State, swell that sum till the grand total rises to the magnificent figure of seventy-seven millions. If the Empire State is called to deal imperially with any subject coming under its care, it certainly should be with the training of the rising generation.”

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