Trains versus Tulips
By Bryan Caplan
I just got back from a relaxing trip to the famous Vanderbilt mansion, the Biltmore, in Asheville, North Carolina. The mansion was constructed at the behest of George Vanderbilt, grandson of shipping and rail magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. Biltmore is especially beautiful this time of year – they’re having their Festival of Flowers, and there are tulips as far as the eye can see.
Still, it’s striking to me that George Vanderbilt gets praised to the skies for his pet project. All he really did was spend a pile of his forebears’ money. And how much credit goes to Grandpa Cornelius, the man who actually earned the family fortune? Virtually none. All I saw was one homely portrait.