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The Vanderbilt family, building on the shipping and railroad business started by Cornelius Vanderbilt, became prominent during the Gilded Age (the period after the Civil War.) In that period the Vanderbilt grandsons built ornate palaces to showcase their wealth including The Breakers in Rhode Island and The Biltmore in North Carolina.
The Vanderbilt Mansion, originally known as Hyde Park, is the only Gilded Age mansion owned by the National Park Service. The 54-room Beaux-Arts structure was built in 1898 by Frederick Vanderbilt. He and his wife Louise lived in NYC and used this elaborate mansion as their country ‘cottage’ and entertained only a dozen or so guests at a time here.
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