One of the neatest things about last week’s Summer Streets event was finding previously unnoticed items like this statue of Cornelius Vanderbilt on the Grand Central Viaduct, which I’ve surely passed in a cab more than 500 times.
Vanderbilt bought the New York Central Railroad in 1867 and built the Grand Central Depot on 42nd Street in 1871. That station was later demolished and rebuilt as Grand Central Terminal, which is where this statue still stands.
Forbes calculates that in adjusted 2008 dollars, Cornelius Vanderbilt (who is Anderson Cooper’s great-great-great-grandfather) is the tenth-wealthiest person who has ever lived in the world, with a peak wealth of $167 billion, putting him right behind Caesar Basil II of the Roman (Byzantine) Empire. (If you buy that such things can be calculated a thousand years later.) Another study places Vanderbilt at #3, behind John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, and just ahead of Bill Gates.