Institute History

The Main Building was the first building designed and built for the Rensselaer Institute.

The Rensselaer School was established in 1824 by Stephen Van Rensselaer “for the purpose of instructing persons … in the application of science to the common purposes of life” (Van Rensselaer to Blatchford, 1824). It is “…the first school of science and school of civil engineering, which has had a continuous existence, to be established in any English-speaking country” – Palmer C. Ricketts.

In 1833 the school became the Rensselaer Institute, and in the 1850s its purpose was broadened to become a polytechnic institution. The name was changed to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1861.

Vintage postcard of the view of Troy, NY from Rensselaer
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