Cornelius Vanderbilt, originally from Staten Island, borrowed $100 from his mother to start a ferry business in which rowed the boat from Staten Island to Manhattan and back. He was the operator of the steamboat ferry line for Ogden in the Supreme Court case in Ogden vs. Reid that challenged the steamboat monopoly of New York harbor on both sides of New Jersey/New York border granted by the New York State legislature. Vanderbilt then the owner of the largest maritime transportation empire in the world. He became immensely wealthy by providing cheap transportation to the masses. Some of his ferryboat rides were even free because he made so much money by selling meals and snacks on board.
Foreseeing the future of transportation, Vanderbilt sold all his ships; and reinvested his profits in railroads to become the richest man in the world. At the time of his death at age 83 in 1877; he was the richest man in America worth over $68,000,000 or over 225 billion dollars today, more than five times Bill Gates’ worth today.
Vanderbilt Hall of Yale University was endowed by the Vanderbilt family. It has a special dorm room to house any Vanderbilt admitted to Yale University. Occasionally, Cornelius Vanderbilt, the founder of New York Central (now Metro-North) who haunts Grand Central Terminal, hops Metro North to visit any descendant who occupies the dorm room. He makes his presence known by a sudden drop in the room temperature, especially in the summer time. Some of his descendants claim that he appears in some of their dreams to share some wisdom with them. Occasionally they experience a nightmare when he chides them for not well at Yale!