During the 1880s and 1890s, industry in America was booming. With a new industrialized society, new classes of people emerged, such as the lower class, the middle class, and the elite upper class. To differ from the other classes, the middle class worked in the “white collar” jobs and was the biggest consumers of credit. With this, the middle class was able to enjoy a life with more luxury than ever before.
Due to the availability of credit, the middle class had a lot of money to spend. The middle class bought many luxurious clothes and products and was able to enjoy a great deal of leisure time. In the above picture, the general lifestyle of the middle class is shown. Many men and women enjoyed going to lakes, parks, and rivers to relax and get away from the busy lifestyle of their industrial city and workplace.
For example, some middle class families travelled to parks and enjoyed picnics. The middle class emphasized and cherished family time and tried to incorporate it in their everyday life. They used their leisure time to create a calm, peaceful, and serene atmosphere, which contrasted with the hectic lifestyle in the city that the workers had to endure on a daily basis.
Likewise, the middle class enjoyed purchasing extravagant and decorative clothes. In the photo, the men and women are wearing well-tailored suits, dresses, and skirts. Also, they are wearing hats. This shows that they have more money because they are able to spend it on accessories, while the lower class cannot.
The middle class was also given access to goods provided by the new industrialized society, because goods were produced in masses. One of these goods, as seen in the photo above, is the bicycle. Many middle class people enjoyed riding bicycles around town. This shows that the middle class was able to spend money on wants, rather than their needs.
In conclusion, the Gilded Age offered numerous and various opportunities for the emerging middle class. Being the main consumers, the lives of the middle class was easier and access to goods was very simple. In the picture above, it is apparent that the middle class fed the ethos of consumption in America during this time period. Thus, without the legacy and reputation of the middle class during the Gilded Age, American society, today, would be significantly different and incomparably impacted by the fruits of industry and society.