9 November 2021 • Faculty Professor Hood Highlighted on the History Channel


Clifton Hood, the George E. Paulsen ’49 Professor of American History and Government, is featured in the History Channel’s “The Engineering that Built the World” series.

An expert on New York City’s subway system, Professor of History Clifton Hood is part of an impressive team of historians and authorities to narrate a segment of the History Channel’s new series “The Engineering that Built the World.” (Click here to view the segment through several TV providers; next week, the episode will be streamed free from the History Channel.)

In the “Race to the Underground” segment airing now on the History Channel, Hood discusses the engineering marvel of the founding of the largest subway in the United States, a segment of American history that he has been an authority on since authoring 722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How They Transformed New York in 1993.

In the show, Hood details several topics ranging from engineering disputes and political obstacles to public opinion and deadly accidents. He also provides a view of the significance of the groundbreaking work of William Barclay Parsons, civil engineer, and Frank Sprague, known as the father of electric traction.

“Parsons had a calling for mass transit and I think ‘calling’ is an appropriate term because ‘calling’ comes from beyond the everyday world of work. It is from the world of religion, it speaks to a higher purpose,” says Hood. “You think of Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone, Edison and the light bulb—Frank Sprague is in that series. The electric motor makes high capacity, high speed transportation possible.”   

Hood is also the author of 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 core and periphery in 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.