The Pequod Review:
The Monied Metropolis is an outstanding work of cultural history, one that details the emergence of the New York City bourgeoisie in the late nineteenth-century. Prior to the Civil War, the merchant families of New York maintained their power through familial ties and a sturdy grip on the international cotton trade. They were generally unthreatened by other classes; as a result, they led mostly quiet and reserved lives, and tended to mix culturally with other New Yorkers. Music, art, and theater were democratic affairs and artistic tastes tended to blur across classes. However, with postwar emergence of a new class of successful industrialists — whose economic power began to turn into political and social power — the old merchant families felt their status threatened. They responded by moving uptown, creating their own clubs and churches, and turning institutions like the Metropolitan Opera and Metropolitan Museum of Art into high-priced clubs for the rich. They even created their own militias and a Park Avenue armory that would be “defensible from all points against mobs.” This is a fascinating study that shows the ways in which conflict and power — rather than consensus and stability — lay at the heart of modern American history.