Cornelius Vanderbilt is known as a Gilded Age tycoon. He was born in Staten Island, New York in 1794. His rise to tycoon was a result of his astute business acumen and power with the railroad and later, shipping industries. He is the patriarch of one of the wealthiest families in the USA. In the early 1600s, much of the state of New York was settled by the Dutch. Staten Island, Vanderbilt’s home was heavily populated by Dutch immigrants. Cornelius Vanderbilt began his first business, a ferry service, at sixteen years old. Living in Staten Island, Vanderbilt’s ferrying individuals to the neighboring state of New Jersey seemed a natural way to earn money. His penchant for turning business into wealth led him to become a steamboat entrepreneur with his own steamboat, the C. Vanderbilt, sailing along the Hudson River. He held a steamboat monopoly by the late 1830s.
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2. Income & Salary
Cornelius Vanderbilt married his cousin, Sophia Johnson in 1813. Together, they had thirteen children from 1814 to 1864. The Vanderbilt family tree has survived to the present. One of his progeny, Gloria Vanderbilt, is herself a fashion tycoon in her own right.
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The Gold Rush of the late 1800s is one of the reasons for the growth of railroads in the US. Cornelius Vanderbilt recognized the need for laying track and creating railroad routes from east to west early on. Before the end of the Civil War, Vanderbilt astutely bought gold and paper currency even though it was not flourishing at that time. He amassed enough to purchase stock in railroads after the war ended.During the California Gold Rush, Vanderbilt invested in the Stonington Railroad. He realized with his newly acquired capital, he was positioned to sit on the boards of several railroads like the Erie, New York and Harlem and the New Jersey Central Railroad. This empowered Cornelius Vanderbilt enormously pitting him against other Gilded Age Robber Barons like Jay Gould and James Fisk in railroad stock trading. A statue of Cornelius Vanderbilt was erected and can be seen at Grand Central Station Terminal in Ney York City. In today’s dollars Cornelius Vanderbilt would have been worth and estimated $185 billion at the time of his death.
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