In a New York Times article this month, Clifton Hood, the George E. Paulsen ’49 Professor of American History and Government, discusses the “jewel” that was New York City’s City Hall subway station.
The article, “Failing New York Subway? Not Always — Once There Were Chandeliers,” highlights the “chandeliers, ornamental skylights and soaring archways with zigzagging patterns of terra-cotta tiles” found in the station, which opened in 1904 and has been closed since 1945.
“There’s this jewel of a station below City Hall right in the heart of Manhattan,” Hood told the Times. “And almost no one knows about it and very few people have seen it firsthand.”
Hood — a nationally recognized expert on the history of New York City, with a particular focus on the city’s upper-class, historical memory and mass transit — describes in the article his first visit to the City Hall station in the summer of 1978 as a graduate student researching the subway system. “I was blown away…. This station in particular was built to be magnificent. They could have made it utilitarian and pedestrian but they didn’t.”
Hood is the author of 722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How they Transformed New York and 2016’s acclaimed In Pursuit of Privilege: A History of New York City’s Upper Class and the Making of a Metropolis. Currently working on a third book examining imposters in the United States as a whole, he has delivered dozens of papers and presentations at international conferences, and his writing and scholarship has been published in leading scholarly journals and national periodicals. He is also doing preliminary work on an upcoming fourth book that will explore the relationship between industrial and post-industrial Pittsburgh; Hood is a native of a steel town outside of Pittsburgh.
A member of the HWS faculty since 1992, Hood teaches a range of courses exploring American urban history, environmental history, elites in America, and U.S. ethnicity and immigration. He holds a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Washington University and a master’s and doctorate from Columbia University. He served as senior Fulbright Lecturer in Seoul National University in South Korea.
In 2017, Hood was appointed to the George E. Paulsen ’49 Professorship for a second term, making him the first professor to hold the distinguished honor twice.