Low, Seth

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Low, Seth

Seth Low, 1850–1916, American political reformer and college president, b. Brooklyn, N.Y., grad. Columbia, 1870. He entered his father's tea and silk importing firm, but became interested in politics and was reform mayor of the city of Brooklyn for two terms (1882–86). His support of Grover Cleveland in 1884 angered his fellow Republicans and cost Low a third term. As president of Columbia (1889–1901) he reorganized the existing schools, added to their number, increased affiliations with other institutions, supervised the removal of the university to Morningside Heights (1897), and gave it a library building in memory of his father. In 1901 he was elected mayor of Greater New York City (including the present five boroughs) as Fusion candidate against Tammany, then under Richard Croker. He reformed the police and education departments, reorganized the city finances, compelled the electrification of the New York Central RR within the city, and attacked the continued existence of unsanitary tenements. He was not reelected. Low was a delegate to the First Hague Conference.

See biographies by his nephew Benjamin R. C. Low (1925, repr. 1971) and G. Kurland (1971).

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