Cornelius Vanderbilt aka Commodore (1794 1877) quit school at 11 and worked on his father's ferries. His shipping interests eventually included the Long Island steamboat ferries, the Staten Island Ferry and the trans-oceanic California steamship business. He controlled many railroad lines including one of the first giant American corporations, the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad. He also accumulated a large portfolio of real estate on Manhattan and Staten Island. One of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in American history, he lived in relative modesty, splurging only on his race horses, while his heirs created the opulent Vanderbilt houses that epitomize "the Gilded Age".