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A Gilded Age Parents’ Getaway in the Hudson Valley

by Eugenia Lazaris

May 23, 2024

© Ivan Kokoulin | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / North America

If your family’s travel this summer includes a parents-only getaway, consider stepping into the rarified world portrayed in HBO’s hit The Gilded Age. Several filming locations for the first two seasons are mansions and summer “cottages” in the Hudson Valley and elsewhere in New York, and a few are open to visit.


You can plan a weekend around three Gilded Age mansions in the Hudson Valley and learn about some of the real-life people of that era who inspired characters in the series. Seeing the environments in which the moneyed elite lived in the 19th century brings the story to life, and it’s fun to learn about some of the adaptations made in filming.


Begin at Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, home of railroad magnate Jay Gould, who served as inspiration for the show’s George Russell character. The mansion was used in filming the first two seasons, and you’ll see familiar scenes on a Classic Mansion Tour of its interior, which you may recognize as the home of characters Charles and Aurora Fane. Lyndhurst’s lawns became Central Park in the show, and the extensive grounds stood in for Sheep’s Meadow. The mansion’s 1894 Bowling Alley was transformed into the ferry terminal.


While they didn’t serve as settings for the show, two mansions in Hyde Park give a further picture of the lives of New York’s power elite in the Gilded Age. You can tour 18 lavishly decorated rooms at Vanderbilt Mansion Historic Site, country house of Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt from 1896 to 1938. Frederick was director of the New York Central Railroad and two others, and the couple also had a summer home on fabled Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island. After seeing the interior, take time to enjoy the grounds and beautiful views of the Hudson River.


Also in Hyde Park, you can visit Springwood, home of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to see it just as it was in his lifetime. On a tour of the estate, now a National Historic Site, you can see the rooms where the Roosevelts lived, raised their children, and entertained royalty and heads of state. The president met here with cabinet members and frequently delivered his famous Fireside Chats from Springwood. Although most of the estate is not as over-the-top in its décor, it is still representative of life for the wealthy in the Gilded Age.


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