Vanderbilt, George Washington

Vanderbilt, George Washington

(1862–1914) capitalist, forestry pioneer, agriculturist; born on Staten Island, N.Y. (grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, son of William Henry Vanderbilt). He was privately tutored and a world traveler, speaking eight languages. In 1889, in love with the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, he began buying acreage (130,000 total) near Asheville, N.C., and proceeded to study forestry, architecture, and landscape gardening. The architect of his $3 million estate, "Biltmore," was Richard Morris Hunt; Frederick Law Olmsted was his landscape gardener; Gifford Pinchot was placed in charge of the forest. Moving to "Biltmore" in 1896, Vanderbilt became a pioneer in forestry science; on his acreage he founded the Biltmore nursery, which specialized in trees and plants of the Appalachian region, and the Biltmore School of Forestry. He also bred hogs and cows and sold the meat and dairy products, and his advanced agriculture, forestry, and animal husbandry practices served to inspire similar reforms throughout the South. Among his benefactions was the Jackson Square branch of the New York Public Library, and the ground on which Columbia University's Teacher's College was built.
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