TwHP Lessons

Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site: Monument to the Gilded Age

[Photo] View of the Vanderbilt Mansion today, Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site.

[Photo] Louise Vanderbilt. [Photo] Frederick Vanderbilt. (National Park Service)


ith spectacular views of the Hudson River as well as the Catskill and Shawangunk Mountains, the Hudson River valley has much to offer both residents and visitors. By the turn of the 20th century, many wealthy families, including the Vanderbilts, had built palatial houses along the Hudson, between New York City and Albany. The Hudson River held special significance for the Vanderbilts. In the early 1800s, Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt laid the foundation for the Vanderbilt fortune when he began a ferry service between Staten Island and Manhattan.

Later, the family's New York Central Railroad ran along the Hudson. In 1895, Frederick Vanderbilt, grandson of the Commodore, built his country estate overlooking the river in Hyde Park, New York. With more than 600 acres of landscaped property and a palatial Beaux-Arts mansion, the Hyde Park estate came to symbolize the enormous wealth accumulated by a privileged few during the Gilded Age. Today, the Vanderbilts' Hyde Park home is preserved as Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. New York State and surrounding region
 2. Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. The Vanderbilt Family Beginnings
 2. The Vanderbilts' Hyde Park Mansion
 3. The Vanderbilts as Philanthropists

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Vanderbilt Mansion under construction
 2. Modern view of Vanderbilt Mansion
 3. Vanderbilt Mansion today
 4. 1st floor plan of the Vanderbilt Mansion
 5. 2nd floor plan of the Vanderbilt Mansion
 6. Louise Vanderbilt's bedroom
 7. The Vanderbilt dining room
 8. The Pavilion

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. How the Other Half Lived
 2. Researching Personalities from the
 Gilded Age

 3. Philanthropy in the Local Community

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Vanderbilt Mansion
National Historic Site

This lesson is based on Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.



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