During the mid nineteenth century, Cornelius Vanderbilt was the wealthiest American man. He dominated the expanding transport business. He was a tycoon in the railroad and shipping industry. During his early ages, Cornelius worked alongside his father who ran a boat ferrying cargo between Staten Island where they lived and Manhattan. He worked as a captain in a steamship before going into business towards the end of the 1820’s.
Eventually, he became the largest operator of steamship in the country. He publicly was nicknamed Commodore and his reputation was that he was a fierce, ruthless and competitive individual. During the 1860’s his focus shifted railroad industry and he managed to build an empire that helped in boosting the efficiency of railroad transport. At the time of his death 1877, he was worth over one hundred million US dollars.
During his time, he was considered a legend and his business success was accredited not only to his shrewdness but ability to work hard and in a ruthless manner compared to his competitors. His businesses which were very successful were modern prototypes corporations and the wealth he amassed surpassed John Jacob Astor’s record, who at the time held the title of the richest man in America.
Vanderbilt was a Dutch settler descendant having come to American during the middle 1600s. Born on 27th May, 1794, he came from a humble background with his parents working as farmers and his father also ran the business of ferrying merchandize and people as a teenager, Vanderbilt transported cargo around the harbor of NY through his periauger.
He eventually acquired his own boats and also learned about the designing of ships. Vanderbilt, in 1817 worked for a rich businessman as the captain of his steamboat service which was operated between New York and New Jersey. As a result of the opportunity, he managed to learn about the expanding steamship industry.
Towards the end of 1820’s Vanderbilt went into business by building steamships and also operating ferry lines. He became dominant in the industry because he was aggressive, shred and committed to his work. He is also known to have engaged in wars which were quite fierce with rivals and in some instances some of his competitors even paid him large amounts so he would not compete with them.
In 1840, he constructed a huge brick home at Washington 10 Place for his family in what is now known as Greenwich Village. Regardless of his wealth which was growing, the residents of the city were slow at accepting Vanderbilt since they viewed him as uncultured and extremely rough.
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