Yuppies: Wall Street & the Remaking of New York

Yuppies: Wall Street & the Remaking of New York

History Hangout: Conversation with Dylan Gottlieb


Young urban professional (yuppies for short) emerged as an archetype close to the heart of transformations taking place in American society during the 1970s and 1980s. These highly-educated individuals were products and architects of a new American economy geared toward financial services and willing cannibalize much of the rest of the economy for short-term profit. While elite universities had once turned out managers for manufacturing firms in midsize cities, by the 1980s their graduates were flocking into banking in major urban centers such as Chicago where the term yuppy originated, but most markedly New York.  

In his book project, Dr. Dylan Gottlieb, assistant professor at Bentley University and former NEH-Hagley postdoctoral fellow, uncovers a social history of financialization through the lens of yuppies, their economic position, and their cultural proclivities. Among the markers of yuppiedom were an obsession with fitness, an interest in fine dining, and a drive to command cultural symbols as means of establishing their right to sit atop of an unequal and ultimately unjust hierarchy. Using a variety of source material, including marketing studies housed in the Hagley Library collections, Gottlieb tells a compelling story of social aspiration and dislocating change.  

In support of his work, Gottlieb received the 2021-2022 NEH-Hagley Postdoctoral Fellowship in Business, Culture, & Society from the Center for the History of Business, Technology, & Society at the Hagley Museum & Library.

The audio only version is available on our podcast.