The Vanderbilt name is still prominent to this day. So it may surprise you that, at one point in the 1800s, the Vanderbilts were outcasts in high society, as they were a part of the nouveau riche thanks to their success in railroads and shipping.

How did the Vanderbilts make New York City’s most prominent family? Well, Alva ErskineSmithYou can marry into your family.

With the wealth of her husband, Mrs. Vanderbilt created prominent family houses in Newport and built her Opera House. However, she wasn’t content to just get into New York’s stuffy society. She conquered it, taking over for Mrs. Astor—alongside fellow socialites Mamie Fish There are Fair Oelrichs—upon her death.

Alva finally divorced Mr. William K. VanderbiltA remarried, close family friend Oliver Belmont. She was also an advocate for the women’s suffrage movement.

Alva Vanderbilt was only a reference in The Gilded Age, she clearly inspired the character Bertha Russell (Carrie CoonShe tries to make use of her wealth and get into the top society.