All that was gilded was not golden during the Gilded Age. While the railroads promised progress, western settlement, and jobs for immigrants, they also changed the face of the country, further decimating native populations, polluting nature, and creating a great divide between rich and poor. .
Native Americans were accustomed to a nomadic type of lifestyle consisting of hunters and gatherers who relied on natural resources for survival. It was this that kept the Native American culture alive. The commencement of the gilded era however ran many Native Americans out of what they considered to be home. Industrialization caused them hardship because they were ran out of their land so that a railroad system can be built to travel from the north to the south. In reference to an image created by John Gast called "American Progress " created in 1872 depicts Native Americans fleeing the land due to the progression of industrialization which changed their lifestyles (John Gast, American Progress, 1872, Library of Congress).
Pollution became a major problem during the gilded age. Factory owners and workers would build homes beside the factories providing easy travel and access. Many natural habitats were destroyed in order for people to create more factories and homes; this meant tearing down lots of trees and forest areas. Water which was used for industrialization was poured into the river system causing contamination. Water contamination caused many diseases which caused an issue for people who relied on the river systems. Railroad systems released smoke as they were powered by coal. The smoke would release into the atmosphere which caused respiratory disorders. When the smoke and fog from bad climate mix together is would create smog.
During the Gilded age, many people abused their power to profit making rich middle class and the poor even poorer. People like John D Rockefeller who used unfair methods to gain an upper hand in business became wealthier leaving some middle class or even poor.