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Gilded Age Mansions

Midtown and Uptown was once filled with enormous single-family mansions that were commissioned and owned by the richest families in New York. Many of these men (including Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Frick, Astor, and Rockefeller) had made their money in the late nineteenth century with the expansion of industry and through exploiting laborers. Because their tactics of making a profit were questionable, they were called the “Robber Barons.” The Robber Barons commissioned prolific architects, including Stanford White and Richard Morris Hunt to design their elaborate mansions. However, only a few of their mansions survive today. The Vanderbilt Mansion at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, built by railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt II, was demolished in 1927 and was replaced by the Bergdorf Goodman department store. Other mansions survived, including the Frick Mansion, now home to the Frick Collection, and the Plant Mansion built in 1905, now a Cartier store.