Professor of History Clifton Hood’s extensive research on the history of New York City has been highlighted in several recently published and upcoming nationally-syndicated television programs and newspaper articles.
Hood’s latest book, “In Pursuit of Privilege: A History of New York City’s Upper Class and the Making of a Metropolis,” published in November 2016, was recently reviewed in the Wall Street Journal. The work is a cultural history of New York City’s upper class from the mid-18th century to the present.
“’In Pursuit of Privilege,’ appropriately, is a wealth of information. And its primary-source materials—diaries, letters, memoirs, minutes, period fictions—are a true pleasure,” writes William L. Hamilton in his Wall Street Journal review titled “The Upper Crust Built New York.”
Sam Roberts, of the New York Times, featured Hood’s work in a review titled “Tracing the Blue Blood of New York’s Elite.” “[Hood’s] new book earnestly places the well-traversed late 19th century in a broader historical perspective and identifies what distinguished New York’s elites from the upper crusts of other cities,” Roberts writes.
Broadening the scope of his research on New York’s elite class, Hood is being filmed for an episode of the BBC’s genealogy documentary series, “Who Do You Think You Are?” — an offshoot of the American series of the same title. Each episode of the series traces the genealogy of a celebrity as they explore their family roots by speaking with historians at various archives and libraries. Although Hood doesn’t yet know which celebrity he will be working with, Hood explains that he will be featured talking about a celebrity who is a descendant of a late 19th century New York City businessman who made a fortune selling a cooking ingredient.
In addition to his most recent work on New York City’s upper class, Hood retains a strong interest in the history of New York City’s subway system, which was the subject of his first book, “722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How They Transformed New York.” Hood recently revisited this line of research, providing his expertise in “The Race Underground,” an upcoming documentary about the development of subways in Boston and New York City.
“I talked about the technological development of electricity, trains and tunneling, about the political landscape in New York City, about the businessmen who were active in subway development there and in Boston, and about the political and financial arrangements for subway development,” explains Hood.
The documentary is part of PBS’ “American Experience” series and will air on Jan. 31, at 9 p.m.
Hood was also interviewed for a recently published article in The Atlantic CityLab. The article, “When Manhattan Had Elevated Trains,” explores the impact of tearing down the city’s elevated trains on gentrification and the public transportation system, and what could have happened had the elevated trains remained operational.
“The article looks at questions like would it be better if we didn’t tear them down? Would we have more of a network? Could we have better service?” says Hood.
A member of the HWS faculty since 1992, Hood holds a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Washington University and a master’s and doctorate from Columbia University.