A visionary of transportation in the United States of America

Transport has been one of the biggest driving forces of the economy of the countries , especially the United States of America. Thanks to the invention of many, the investment of some,  and the views of many others, the economic development of the country grew and continues growing up. One of the great examples of someone who changed the transportation of the United States is the story of Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Cornelius Vanderbilt I, was born in May 27th in 1794 in Staten Island, and passed away in January 4th in 1877. He was also known as Commodore, or Commodore Vanderbilt. He was an American businessman who made his fortune thanks to transportation by ships and railways. He was the patriarch of the Vanderbilt family.

Vanderbilt was the fourth of nine children of Cornelius Vanderbilt and Phebe Hand, whose modest family lived in Port Richmond, Staten Island in New York City. In the railway business, the company Vanderbilt was Accessory Transit Company, which was a company of accessory transit in the United States of America.  Cornelius Vanderbilt created an empire around destined to transportation.

The empire of ferries

During his youth, Cornelius Vanderbilt worked on ferries in New York, giving up school at the age of 11 years. When he turned 16 years he was already operating his own business of transporting passengers between Staten Island and Manhattan.

And during the War of 1812 in America, he received a government contract to provide supplies to the forts around New York City, by sailing schooners, trade by which he earned his nickname as “Commodore “.

The war of 1812 in America, was a conflict that pitted the United States against Britain and its Canadian colonies, who fought between 1812 and 1815 by land and sea. Some of the causes include trade restrictions imposed by the United Kingdom because of the war that remained in Europe against France, forced American merchant seamen to serve in the Royal Navy and British support for the indigenous peoples of North America recruitment they opposed the expansion of the United States.

In 1818 he turned his attention to steamships. New York law granted to Robert Fulton and Robert Livingston a legal monopoly on steamboat traffic, which legally prohibited competition. Working for Thomas Gibbons, Vanderbilt competed better prices offered by Fulton and Livingston for service between New Brunswick in New Jersey, and Manhattan, an important section of the trade route between New York and Philadelphia.

Vanderbilt managed to sneak away from those who sought to arrest him and confiscate his boat. Livingston and Fulton offered a lucrative job piloting his boat, but Vanderbilt rejected the offer saying “I do not care so much about making money, but try my arguments and get an advantage” For Vanderbilt, the argument was the superiority of free competition and wickedness of monopolies gubernamentales. Following this Livingston and Fulton sued; the case reached the Supreme Court of the United States and finally ended the monopoly of Fulton and Livingston.

In 1829 Vanderbilt achieved the independence to provide steamboat services on the Hudson River between Manhattan and Albany in New York. For the 1840 he had over 100 steamships traveling the Hudson River and the reputation of having more employees than any other business in the United States.

During the California Gold Rush in 1849, he offered transport by a shortcut via Nicaragua to California, eliminating more than 960 kilometers of the route and 50% on the cost of a trip across the Isthmus of Panama.

And the railway empire

Railway and locomotive engineering_american financial titans_patrick dwyer_Cornelius Vanderbilt I
Image courtesy of Internet Archive Book Images at Flickr.com

In 1844, Vanderbilt was elected director of the Long Island Railroad, which at that time had a route between Boston and New York to make a transshipment to a steamboat. In 1857 he was named the director of the Railroad of New York and Harlem.

In the early 1860s, Vanderbilt started withdrawing his capital from the shipping business and invest it in railways. He acquired the railroad in New York and Harlem in 1862-1863, the Hudson River Railroad in 1864 and the New York Central Railroad in 1867. In 1869 he merged into the Central Railroad of New York and the Hudson River.

In October 1871, Vanderbilt formalized a partnership with the Railroad of New York and New Haven, linking it with the railroads owned to consolidate its operations in one terminal, that was located on West 43rd Street called Grand Central Wine Cellar, which was the first Grand Central Terminal, where to date is a statue of Vanderbilt. The glass roof of the station sank during a hailstorm the same day Vanderbilt died in 1877. The station was replaced in the period 1903-1913.

Take a look to this article to make a review over the history of one of the many men who transformed the United States of America into the country with the biggest economy around the world. And also read this article to learn about how the car business could change the productivity of a nation.


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