The late 1800s to the early 1900s is known as the Gilded Age. Railroads , factories , coal mining and other heavy industries paved the way for individual families to amass huge fortunes of hundreds of millions of dollars. This excess of money was used to build very elaborate houses surrounded by vast estates. The owners traveled the world collecting antiques and treasures to furnish their houses. They brought back exotic plants for the gardens. They planted trees and made paths to ride their horses. As fortunes dwindled , older relatives died or areas become unfashionable, some of the estates were broken up and sold to developers. Others were saved by trusts or donated to organizations who took over the upkeep so now we can enjoy the century old trees and gardens that were originally designed for the enjoyment of these really , really rich people and their really , really rich friends!