America’s Gilded Age


It is the age of giant corporations. In the early 1890s, American Tobacco, American Sugar Refining Company, Carnegie Steel, and General Electric are established. And in 1899, the Detroit Automobile Company is incorporated.


A typical work day lasts 10 hours and a work week is 6 days. Weekly earnings are from 56 cents to $1.13. Over the next 10 years, many workers strike to protest sweatshop conditions, and the first labor unions are formed. Throughout the 13 southern states 23,000 children are employed in factories.

Wyoming (1890), Idaho (1890), and Utah (1896) are granted Statehood.

Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty
New York City Harbor, New York

The US population is 62,947,714 and growing as immigrants from around the world flock to the “Land of Opportunity”. On January 1, 1892 the government opens Ellis Island to process the multitudes arriving in New York City.

Coin operated music boxes cost a penny a song. The “Gay 90s” features two dances - the waltz and the two-step. However, the waltz is considered sinful because of the closeness of the dancers. In the late 1890s, Ragtime music is popular. You are listening to the “Maple Leaf Rag” written by
Scott Joplin in 1899.

Gold is discovered in the Klondike -
Gold Bars
- and the gold rush is on!

Prospectors panning for gold.

The Indian Wars have ended, and most of the free land is gone. Of the 20 million buffalo that roamed the Western plains, fewer than 2,000 remain. The “wild west” of the cowboys and Indians is finished.

Sears and Roebuck begin publishing a mail order catalog. The power of Niagara Falls is harnessed providing low-cost energy for hundreds of miles. Toilet paper is put on rolls. A new convenience food is introduced - Campbell’s condensed soup - it costs 10 cents!


General Electric Advertisement

The Quadricycle

Mm-m Mm-m Good!
Henry Ford’s horseless carriage, the Quadricycle, revolutionizes travel and moves a nation. Other inventions include the zipper, matchbooks, the electric chair, the electric stove, and the adding machine.

In 1899, the U.S. Patent Office declares,
“everything that can be invented has been invented.”

You have been listening to “Maple Leaf Rag” written by Scott Joplin in 1899.


Events in the West, PBS-New Perspectives on The West, 1890-1899.
Kingwood College Library, 19th Century Cultural History, 1890.
Brief Timeline of American Literature and Events 1890-1899.
The Henry Ford Showroom of Automotive History

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