How Robber Barons Flaunted Their Money During the Gilded Age

During the Gilded Age—the decades between the end of the Civil War in 1865 and the turn of the century—the explosive growth of factories, steel mills and railroads driven by the Second Industrial Revolution made a small, elite class of businessmen incredibly rich. By 1890, the wealthiest 1 percent of American families controlled 51 percent of the nation’s real and personal property. 

Among the richest of the rich were the so-called robber barons, whose extreme avarice drove them to use unethical business practices and exploit workers to create lucrative monopolies, and in the process amass fortunes that would amount to billions of dollars in today’s money.