The Gilded Age in the U.S.

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Historians often refer to the time period between 1865 and 1900 as the Gilded Age. During this era, industrialization increased society’s wealth dramatically. New technology resulted in momentous innovations as well as the seizing of these opportunities to create the next groundbreaking businesses or products by ambitious entrepreneurs. Indeed, it would only be logical that the lives of people would be affected in a positive aspect. In actuality however, the degree that industrialization affected people varied in rather contrasting ways, with the destitute becoming poorer and the wealthy becoming even more affluent, creating two different spheres within society that were difficult to converge despite the various efforts attempted.

While industrialization led to a tremendous growth in population of major cities, the social aspects of society resulted in degradation, especially amongst the laborers, which constituted a majority of the population. Dramatic growth meant that living spaces were scarce, with several people living in one room of the various tenements. Those that could not afford to pay rent slept outside on the streets (Document F). The high population density created squalid living conditions that were ideal places for diseases that resulted in illnesses and death. Soon enough, buildings were being built taller to accommodate more people. However, the poor construction due to employers attempting to control the productivity of their workers created dangerous working conditions, especially during fires. With such a large population, it was often difficult to provide the best possible standard of living for everybody.

As entrepreneurs created large, successful corporations that provided them with vast amounts of wealth, laborers, both skilled and unskilled, remained outside of the economic circle, living in poverty. During these times, the economy was dominated by several men that possessed extreme wealth such as Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller,...
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