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The Breakers, a "palace" in terms of opulence and size, epitomizes the Gilded Age mansions era.

The so-called Gilded Age mansions were built in the United States by some of the richest people in the country during in the period between 1870 and the early 1900s.

Raised by the nation's industrial, financial and commercial elite who amassed great fortunes coinciding with an era of expansion of the tobacco, railroads, steel and fossil fuels industries, economic, technical and scientific progress, and a complete lack of personal income tax. This made possible the very rich to build true "palaces" in some cases, designed by prominent architects of its day and decorated with antiquities, furnitures, collectibles and works of art, many imported from Europe.

Biltmore, the largest home in the US.

This small group of nouveau riche, entrepreneur citizens of a relatively young country found context and meaning for their lives and good fortune by thinking of themselves as heirs of a great Western Tradition. They traced their cultural lineage from the Greeks, through the Roman Empire, to the European Renaissance. America's upper classes and merchant classes traveled the world visiting the great European cities and the ancient sites of the Mediterranean, as part of a Grand Tour, collecting and honoring their western cultural heritage. In their travels abroad they also admired the estates of the European nobility and seeing themselves as the American "nobility", they wished to emulate the old world dwellings in American soil.

All these houses are "temples" of social ritual of 19th-century high society, they are the result of the particularization of space, in that a sequence of rooms are separated and intended for a specific sort of activity, such as dining room for gala dinners, ballroom, library, etc.

These elaborate bastions of wealth and power played a social role, made for impressing, entertaining and receiving guests. Relatively few in number and geographically dispersed, the majority were constructed in a variety of European architectural and decorative styles from different times and countries, such as France, England or Italy.

In cinema, the Gilded Age society and mansions are accurately portrayed in Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence (1993), which was itself based on Edith Wharton's 1920 novel of the same name.








Palm BeachEdit

Ormond BeachEdit





New JerseyEdit

New YorkEdit

New York CityEdit

North CarolinaEdit

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Rhode IslandEdit



Washington, DCEdit


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