In the span of a single lifetime, from the end of the Civil War to the crash of the Stock Market in 1929, American culture as we know it was invented by an extraordinary group of individuals who drove the technological and cultural changes that made us who we are today.

Dubbed the Gilded Age by Mark Twain for a book he authored by that title in 1873, it was a time of unparalleled growth in technology and American culture. Virtually everything we take for granted in our daily lives was invented or became a tradition during this fascinating period in America’s history. The captains of industry and commerce of the Gilded Age became wealthy beyond imagination. The magnitude of change they affected and witnessed convinced them that anything was possible, given American ingenuity and hard work. A great many of the major for-profit corporations they established still exist and thousands of nonprofit corporations they founded still provide unparalleled educational and cultural opportunities. Indeed, the events, technology, and titans of the Gilded Age still shape our daily lives more than a century later.