The Vanderbilts had the wealth and the influence to change the economic, social, and physical landscape of the United States. Their shipping and railroad industries put the family at the top of the elite economic class.

But with all that money and all that power came the unquenchable desire for unending luxury – and not everyone in the family had the business savvy or know-how of the man who made them rich.

The ever-changing economic times, coupled with the excess with which they built their empire eventually led to the fall of the Vanderbilt family.

Read on to learn more about one of America’s most prominent families.