In Pursuit of Privilege: A History of New York City's Upper Class and the Making of a Metropolis

Hardcover | November 8, 2016

byClifton Hood

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A history that extends from the 1750s to the present, In Pursuit of Privilege recounts upper-class New Yorkers' struggle to create a distinct world guarded against outsiders, even as economic growth and democratic opportunity enabled aspirants to gain entrance. Despite their efforts, New York City's upper class has been drawn into the larger story of the city both through class conflict and through their role in building New York's cultural and economic foundations.

In Pursuit of Privilege describes the famous and infamous characters and events at the center of this extraordinary history, from the elite families and wealthy tycoons of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to the Wall Street executives of today. From the start, upper-class New Yorkers have been open and aggressive in their behavior, keen on attaining prestige, power, and wealth. Clifton Hood sharpens this characterization by merging a history of the New York economy in the eighteenth century with the story of Wall Street's emergence as an international financial center in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as the dominance of New York's financial and service sectors in the 1980s. Bringing together several decades of upheaval and change, he shows that New York's upper class did not rise exclusively from the Gilded Age but rather from a relentless pursuit of privilege, affecting not just the urban elite but the city's entire cultural, economic, and political fabric.

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From the Publisher

A history that extends from the 1750s to the present, In Pursuit of Privilege recounts upper-class New Yorkers' struggle to create a distinct world guarded against outsiders, even as economic growth and democratic opportunity enabled aspirants to gain entrance. Despite their efforts, New York City's upper class has been drawn into the...

Clifton Hood is professor of history at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He is the author of 722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How They Transformed New York (1993), and his work has appeared in the Journal of Urban History, Journal of Social History, Reviews in American History, and the New York Times.

other books by Clifton Hood

722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How They Transformed New York
722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How They Tra...

Paperback|Jul 13 2004

$31.19 online$32.50list price
Format:HardcoverDimensions:512 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:November 8, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231172168

ISBN - 13:9780231172165

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Upper Class Is a Foreign Country1. "The Best Mart on the Continent": The 1750s and 1760s2. Uncertain Adjustments: The 1780s and 1790s3. Wealth: The 1820s and Beyond4. All for the Union: The 1860s5. A Dynamic Businessman's Aristocracy: The 1890s6. The Ways of Millionaireville: The 1890s7. Making Spaces of Their Own: The 1940s8. The Antielitist Elite: The 1970s and BeyondConclusion: The Limits of AntielitismAcknowledgmentsAbbreviations for Selected Manuscript SourcesNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

In Pursuit of Privilege is an impressive, detailed study of the upper class in New York over a period of more than two centuries. Written engagingly, the book distinguishes itself in the literature with its long-term view of New York's elite class, covering many of the major events in New York's history from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War draft riots to the rise of corporate America. An important contribution to the literature on the history of New York and elite society in the United States.