Rich families of the Gilded Age lived lives nearly unimaginable today. How so? One need only look around one's hometown and see where the enormous, glorious mansions of the late 19th century have either been turned into private or public museums – or are peeling and rotting away – to get a glimpse. In most cases, it is simply too costly to maintain them as private residences anymore. So, imagine just how incredibly rich the handful of mid- to late 19th-century families had to be to keep up such lavish appearances. The Gilded Age wealth disparity was so extreme that people today often compare them to what modern society terms the "one-percent" class.
Excess touched every single aspect of daily life in the Gilded Age, from the responsibility of servants to change bed linen multiple times per day, to designer clothing and jewels, to the horrendously elaborate gastronomical events that were conducted everyday in the dining rooms of the super rich, to the over-the-top feuds between scientists. If you were among the elite of the Gilded Age, you didn't do anything half way.