“To make travelers forget they were at sea”—Gilded Age ocean liners
The Gilded Age in the United States generally referred to the post-Civil War period from the 1870s to the turn of the 20th century, when vast industrial fortunes led to lavish lifestyles for those relatively few families. Newport, Rhode Island came to be seen as the most fashionable resort for many wealthy industrialists, with such “summer cottages” as the Breakers, Marble House, Rosecliff, the Elms, and others. Eventually, as Henry Flagler extended the railroad down the Atlantic coast of Florida, St. Augustine became a winter destination with the opening in
1888 of the Ponce de Leon Hotel (now Flagler College), before the winter resorts farther south at Palm Beach, Miami Beach, and the Florida Keys became popular.
Today, the primary reminders of the Gilded Age are the magnificent historic houses that are preserved as hotels, museums, and other types of tourist destinations. In addition to the extravagances of the architecture, the Gilded Age also included the development of elaborate social customs, etiquettes, and rules. But the extravagant lifestyles of the Gilded Age also extended to trans-Atlantic ocean liners. (Photo of the RMS Titanic in 1912 is in the public domain).
By Robert Khederian
June 29, 2017