The opulence and grandiosity of NYC’s palatial homes and buildings from the city’s Gilded Age (1870-1900) are once again getting the attention they were built to elicit.
HBO’s newest television series The Gilded Age just premiered in January, whisking viewers’ imaginations back to old New York, when monied residents displayed their wealth ostentatiously and turned down their noses at anyone who wasn’t their type of rich. This is the main push of the show, which pits “new money” families against “old money” families in the most public displays imaginable.
For those who don’t know, “Gilded Age” is a phrase coined by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, who wrote the 1873 novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today. The book described the era as one masked by a thin gold gilding while being full of corruption and major societal problems.
The Gilded Age show begins in 1882 with Marian Brook moving from rural Pennsylvania to NYC after the death of her father to live with her old-money aunts, Agnes van Rhijn and Ada Brook. On the way, she makes fast friends with Peggy Scott, a Black writer looking for a fresh start. It quickly becomes apparent that there’s a social war going on between one of her aunts and her rich neighbors—a ruthless railroad tycoon and his ambitious wife, George and Bertha Russell.
As The Gilded Age captures viewers’ attention, showing what Old New York once looked like and the grand homes the lucky few inhabited, we took a look at a handful of homes, buildings and other landmarks that still remain from the Gilded Age that you can see for yourself whether on a stroll or on a Gilded Age tour from Context Travel.
A lot of NYC buildings from this era are still around, especially on the Upper East Side, but if you know the architectural elements to look for, it can become a fun game you can play walking through the streets of the city.
Scroll down to read all about 13 of them before you head out.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.