The Gilded Age in New York City Audio Guide

Marvel at Manhattan's impressive mansions, once home to its scandalous elite
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Audio Guide Details
1 hour 15 minutes
Product Type
Audio Guide
  • The Plaza Hotel
  • Central Park
  • Fletcher-Sinclair mansion
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • The Frick Collection
Preview The Gilded Age in New York City Audio Guide
Learn how a group of disgruntled members of the Union Club invented the exclusive Knickerbocker Club
Dive into the history of the Marrying Wilsons, named for the advantageous marriages they made
Discover how Edward Berwind was one of the first of the Gilded Age families to build a “cottage” in Newport
Photos & Highlights
Audio Guide Description
Explore one of the most exciting times in American history, the Gilded Age with Context Travel expert, Michele Gouveia. Starting outside the famed Plaza Hotel, you'll venture up Fifth Avenue (once nicknamed Millionaire's Row), and visit some of the places that Manhattan’s elite called home in the late 1800s. 

From the site where the city's largest private residence once stood, to a Venetian palace whose architect was murdered, you'll get a peek into how some of the richest people in US history once lived, and how they impacted the city's urban landscape.

Michele will fill you in on the Gilded Age's key players including a few ambitious men who made billions: Andrew Carnegie with steel, JP Morgan with finance, JD Rockefeller with oil, and Cornelius "the Commodore" Vanderbilt with railroads and shipping. She'll also tell you about the divide between old money and new money among the upper class. Along the way, you'll discover the degree to which the upper class of the Gilded Age looked to France for style guidance and England for customs and manner, such as private gentlemen's clubs like the Union Club and the Metropolitan Club.

The tour wraps up near the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the MET), created when a group of New York businessmen were inspired to open a museum like the ones they had seen on a trip to Paris.

On this 75-minute tour, you'll:

• Marvel at Mary Augusta King's house, which later became the headquarters for the American Irish Historical Society, where she lived with her Irish servants
• Admire the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion, the only French Gothic-style house on the tour
• Take in the former Payne Whitney Mansion (now owned by the French government) where the horse-breeding Whitney families became one of New York's wealthiest
• Discover how Frederick Law Olmstead, designer of Central Park, couldn't stand monuments and tried to keep them out of the park
• Hear about Ward McAllister's list of the number of people who reportedly made up high society, 'The Four Hundred'
• Gaze upon Temple Emanu-El, one of the largest synagogues in the world, and the location where Mrs Astor's double mansion once stood
• Learn about Joseph Pulitzer, a newspaper baron who left money to Columbia University for a journalism school, and created the Pulitzer Prize
• Take in the Beekman Mansion, finished in 1905 by Warren & Wetmore in the Beaux Arts style, with an interior modeled after Versailles
• Admire the block where the Russell and Van Rijn families live in HBO's series, The Gilded Age 
• Find out about the controversial events that led to the creation of the exclusive Knickerbocker Club in 1871, involving John Jacob Astor III and Alexander Hamilton Jr 
• Learn how a riff between Mrs. Astor and William, the elder Astor, led to the construction of the Waldorf Hotel then the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

By the end of this tour, you'll have a deeper understanding of what made the Upper East Side such a sought-after address, and the role the Gilded Age's key figures played in shaping the city. 
Meet Your Expert

Michele is an accomplished writer and film producer. She has written about famous New Yorkers including Dorothy Parker, Evelyn Nesbit, and Mae West. Her documentary film work has included topics ranging from the silent movie era to World War II to the Olympics. An authority on the 1920s, she is currently working on a feature documentary about the first Hollywood scandal. Michele also teaches film history classes at the New York Public Library. She received a master’s degree in English literature from Simmons University.

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Is closed captioning (i.e. subtitles) available?
Yes! All of our audio guides have the option to turn on closed captioning should you have difficulty hearing the expert.

How long does each event last?
Our recorded audio guides typically run for 75 minutes.

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