Recently, the National Park Service interviewed Clarkson University’s Beacon Institute’s Dr. Michael Conrad, a historian with an expertise in building materials, for a history podcast for the National Park Service. The recording explores the history of the Hudson River Valley brick industry during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Listeners learn about laborers, the process of making bricks, and the reasons that led to the explosive expansion and contraction of the industry. They discover that an immigrant workforce transformed ancient glacial clay into the building blocks of the modern New York metropolis.
This brick history podcast is part of a greater series that explore historical topics in the Hudson Valley. Called the ‘Voices of the Hudson’ the podcast series was developed for the Maurice D. Hinchey Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area. All 28 of these stories are part of the Hudson Train Tour app. Part travel guide, part audio tour, the app not only identifies these waterside wonders-it helps you plan visits to the historic, natural, and cultural attractions located near Hudson Valley train stations. The podcast is available here: https://www.hudsonrivervalley.com/about/voices-of-the-hudson
Dr. Conrad holds a Ph.D. in American industrial, urban, and business history from Stony Brook University. His research has examined the twentieth-century concrete aggregate industry along the Hudson River Valley and Long Island Sound. His expertise lies in determining how corporations manage material flows from production to consumption as well as investigating how laborers work in their industry. Conrad works as Beacon Institute’s Executive Officer in charge of accreditation and business operations.
Clarkson University’s Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries ignites citizen science, user-inspired R&D and education through collaboration and creative innovation to inspire sustainable solutions for estuary and freshwater ecosystems throughout the Hudson Valley and across New York State.
True to its mission, the Beacon campus serves as both a research institute focused on healthy water solutions and a provider of educational services, including K-12, public and family and professional graduate programs. Visit https://www.clarkson.edu/academics/beacon to learn more.