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Seth Low

Mayor/University President

Centurion, 1890–1916

Born 18 January 1850 in New York (Brooklyn), New York

Died 17 September 1916 in Bedford Hills, New York

Buried Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

Proposed by Joseph W. Harper and George William Curtis

Elected 1 March 1890 at age forty

Archivist’s Note: Son of Abiel Abbot Low; brother of A. Augustus Low; uncle of Seth Low Pierrepont

Century Memorial

Although much younger than the great journalist [Horace White], Seth Low had for some decades impressed us as a man mature in experience and judgment; and in fact he was the energetic reforming Mayor of Brooklyn thirty-five years ago, when but thirty-one years old. There he appeared as a new type Mayor, honest, educated, intelligent, and energetic, working solely for the city’s good. He was also a new type of university president for Columbia; new in the reach of vision and purpose, and in the hopeful effort which realized so much of what was possible. During the eleven years of his presidency from 1890 to 1901, Columbia became a university worthy of the financial and intellectual metropolis of our country.

Seth Low undertook still larger tasks. In 1897 he stood for the mayoralty of New York; but was not elected. At the next election, reform triumphed over sodden politics, and Low became Mayor for a term of two years. He gave us a city government which was at least a tempered contrast to that which had preceded it; and one which formed a step forward. On becoming Mayor, he resigned the presidency of Columbia; and after his term of office, he gave his time and strength and excellent judgment to the furtherance of international peace without, and industrial peace within, our borders. He was a delegate to The Hague Conference; he was president of the National Civic Federation; he was trustee of the Carnegie Institution. He continued to the end one of the most useful citizens of greater New York.

Henry Osborn Taylor
1917 Century Association Yearbook