J.P. Morgan, assailing a photographer (Wikipedia)

The Gilded Age was a time of unchecked growth in the disparities between the rich and the poor. While the wealthy lived like kings, the poor dwelt in slums and farmsteads and those living in urban areas worked difficult jobs for long hours under difficult conditions for low wages. Workers rights were few and far between and child labor was still legal. That was ok because Social Darwinism was the norm. Politics were the realm of the wealthy robber barons, and chock full of corporate and public corruption fed with copious corporate subsidies. And like all laissez faire economic systems, the Gilded Age economy collapsed in the Panic of 1893, ushering in the Progressive Era.