The Gilded Age Inspired by Real-Life Socialites

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The Vanderbilt name is still prominent to this day. So it may surprise you that, at one point in the 1800s, the Vanderbilts were outcasts in high society, as they were a part of the nouveau riche thanks to their success in railroads and shipping.

How then did the Vanderbilts make New York City one of the most important families? Well, Alva ErskineSmithYou can marry into your family.

The new Mrs. Vanderbilt, who was wealthy enough to inherit her husband’s fortune, built prominent homes in Newport and Newport, started her own Opera House, and hosted lavish parties. She wasn’t content to just get into New York’s stuffy society. She conquered it, taking over for Mrs. Astor—alongside fellow socialites Mamie Fish There’s a Fair Oelrichs—upon her death.

Alva finally divorced Mr. William K. VanderbiltA remarried friend of the family Oliver Belmont. She was also an advocate for the women’s suffrage movement.

Alva Vanderbilt is only one name in the book. The Gilded Age, she clearly inspired the character Bertha Russell (Carrie Coon), who attempts to use her immense wealth to break into high society.