A Classification of American Wealth
History and genealogy of the wealthy families of America - Sponsors

 Part 1 : Colonial and Mercantile America  Part 2 : America in the Gilded Age
 Part 3 : America in the Twentieth Century  Encyclopedia of American Wealth

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   Part II - Chapter 12 :  Utility Tycoons  > Index and Introduction  :  « Previous  1 - 2 - Next » 

In these days the leading street railway tycoons in New York City were George Law and Jacob Sharp. Building on his political momentum, Whitney teamed up with Thomas F. Ryan, a stock broker with close ties to Tammany Hall, to engineer Sharp’s downfall and reorganize New York’s street railways under the umbrella of Metropolitan Traction, America’s first holding company.

Through unscrupulous transactions, involving the acquisition of numerous decrepit lines and unloading them at great profits on the parent corporation, whose stock they aggressively expanded and promoted in Wall Street, this group of men built outstanding personal fortunes and laid the basis of several of America’s wealthiest dynasties. Acting as a group, which later also included Anthony N. Brady, the street railway tycoons became leading shareholders in the American Tobacco trust and later unsuccessfully tried to monopolize automobile manufacturing, through the Selden patent.

If the consolidation of street railways built America’s largest lasting fortunes from public utilities, the application of gas and electricity to street lighting and motive power, as well as the introduction of these new forms of energy to private households, soon brought even larger corporations. Whirling dervishes like Samuel Insull rose and crashed on the wave of such pyramid structures as the Corporation Securities Company, while Wall Street’s leading investment bankers and brokers made millions promoting their stocks and bonds to the public.

Read more about the utility tycoons of the Gilded Age in the following pages of
"A Classification of American Wealth" :

Telegraph and Telephone : two new means of distant communication (coming later)
       Samuel F. B. Morse and the beginnings of the telegraph
       Convergence of the telegraph companies into Western Union
       Western Union’s drive to monopoly

       Bell’s invention and the rise of the telephone trust

The street railway tycoons who controlled Philadelphia , New York and Chicago
       Union Traction and the Philadelphia Rapid Transit system
The Elkins-Widener Family
       The Metropolitan Street Railway system in New York
       The Payne-Whitney Family
       The Ryan Family

Public lighting, gas works and electricity (coming later)

Utility Tycoons  > Index and Introduction  :  « Previous  1 - 2 - Next » 

The Mining Bonanza Kings

The Railroad Barons

The Trusts



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