The Gilded Age’s Gift to Cape Cod:
A Modern Waterway

August Perry Belmont Jr. was a product of his age, in an age that needed his products.

The Gilded Age—a period roughly from post-Civil War Reconstruction (1865) up to the first Progressive Era (early 1900s)—represented the dawn of modern America as it approached the new century. It was a time marked by energetic entrepreneurship, industrial vitality, technical invention and innovation. Commerce was transformed by new developments in steel, petroleum, electrification, transportation and finance. Engineering advances produced the transcontinental railroad, the telephone and the light bulb. New technologies yielded elevators, skyscrapers, trolleys, subways, bridges, and canals.

With little regulation and fierce allegiance to laissez-faire capitalism, vast monopolies and interlocking trusts were created by titans like John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt and J.P. Morgan. 

Nearly forgotten was August Belmont Sr. Belmont was among the defining figures of the Gilded Age. He emigrated from Prussia in 1816 and later founded August Belmont & Company, a Wall Street firm. He was a fixture of New York’s high society and his lavish lifestyle reportedly was the inspiration for Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence” (1920). By the time of his death in 1890, he left $50 million to his wife and four surviving children.