Dr. Thomas F. Schutte has lived in Brooklyn for nearly 20 years as president of Pratt Institute, one of the world's most prestigious colleges of art and design. He has been a driving force in the economic revitalization of the Fort Greene and Clinton Hill neighborhoods of Brooklyn for more than 10 years as chair of Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership, and serves as chair of the Brooklyn Arts Council, an organization that helps to create an environment conducive to the arts in Brooklyn. Dr. Schutte is currently celebrating Pratt's landmark 125th anniversary year.
You are a beloved and dear friend, the kind of friend who is steeped in history but always knows what's up and coming. Your streets draw residents and visitors from around the world. They come to absorb your cultural appeal, hipness and vitality. These new residents build upon the character instilled in you by generations of immigrants who came to Brooklyn and created a thriving mosaic of diverse communities.
Your mark on New York City is indelible and irreplaceable. The Brooklyn Bridge, a treasured city landmark that is one of your signatures, connects you to the pulse of Manhattan. Your brownstones provide balance against skyscrapers and your warehouses provide spaces for industries both small and large. Your many parks and gardens are inviting to residents and visitors alike and provide a place of respite from the hectic pace of urban life.
You are a cultural hub. Your museums, galleries, and performance spaces -- including the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Brooklyn Museum -- showcase some of the most important works of art that this great city and the world have ever seen. You are fertile ground for artists, designers, and thinkers, inspiring them to create and to innovate. New York City recognizes your value in drawing these minds and talents here, many of whom are entrepreneurial and start businesses that grow and flourish in your neighborhoods.
Charles Pratt, the founder of Pratt Institute, came to New York City to seek his fortune. He was a self-made man who worked his way up in the oil refinery business to eventually own his own company that was located in Brooklyn and later merged with Standard Oil. He was smart and industrious, and most of all hard working. It's that type of character that lives on in your borough today.
Charles Pratt and his family built beautiful houses along your streets--homes that still stand on one of the grandest stretches in all of New York. Some have even called Clinton Avenue in your Clinton Hill neighborhood "The Gold Coast of Brooklyn."
My house on Clinton Avenue is one of four remaining residences built by Charles Pratt for his family in the 1890s; the street became known as one of your most fashionable avenues in no small part from their presence.
Charles Pratt founded Pratt Institute in 1887, just a few short blocks away from Clinton Avenue. The campus is home to the first public library in Brooklyn, and to many landmarked buildings and modern structures that make it one of the nation's most architecturally significant campuses. It is also home to the Pratt Sculpture Park, the largest outdoor sculpture park in New York City.
Living just a few short blocks from Pratt, I'm lucky enough to walk to work each morning. I say hello to our neighbors, so I'm sometimes late to work. There's nothing like entering the campus from Willoughby Avenue and seeing the beautiful Rose Garden and Pratt Sculpture Park, its many monumental works set upon the lawn among the buildings.
Not far from Pratt Institute is the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Steeped in history, it is now a thriving industrial park that houses young companies in design, fashion, clean-tech energy, and culinary delights.
The resurgence of Brooklyn is a boon to the arts and a draw for aspiring artists and designers. As an important part of one of the world's multicultural epicenters for arts, culture, design, and business, you provide access to some of the most important institutions, people, and companies in the world.
Thank you, Brooklyn, for your legacy of creativity, your entrepreneurial spirit, and your track record of innovation. Here's to many more years of growing and prospering together.
With love and respect,
Thomas F. Schutte