The term for this period came into use in the 1920s and 1930s and was derived from writer Mark Twain's 1873 novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, which satirized an era of serious social problems masked by a thin gold gilding.
The Breakers, a Gilded Age mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, belonging to the wealthy Vanderbilt family of railroad industry tycoons.
The Gilded Age was an era of rapid economic growth, especially in the North and West. As American wages were much higher than those in Europe, especially for skilled workers, the period saw an influx of millions of European immigrants.
The rapid expansion of industrialization led to real wage growth of 60% between 1860 and 1890, spread across the ever-increasing labor force. The average annual wage per industrial worker (including men, women and children) rose from $380 in 1880 to $564 in 1890, a gain of 48%.
Above: Life in The Gilded Age -1900 - The "Easter Parade" on 5th Avenue, New York City - The Easter Parade was an American cultural event consisting of a festive strolling procession on Easter Sunday. The extraordinarily wealthy paraded fashionable clothing and strove to impress each other with their finery.
However, the Gilded Age was also an era of abject poverty and inequality as millions of immigrants—many from impoverished European nations—poured into the United States, and the high concentration of wealth became more visible and contentious.