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Gilded Age Filming Locations in New York State

by Ohio Digital News

Credit: Barbara Nitke/Courtesy of HBO

Want to immerse yourself in the New York high society of yesteryear? As HBO’s The Gilded Age wraps up its second season, the battles between New York’s ‘old and new money’ circa 1880 come to life through sets inspired by and scenes filmed in destinations throughout New York State. Visit historical settings from the period drama by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and learn about the real-life historical figures mentioned throughout the series for a taste of Gilded Age glamour. 

Masks are encouraged, but optional in most settings per New York State guidelines. Individual businesses or attractions may require mask wearing. Call ahead and check websites and social media to make sure attractions and amenities are open and available.

Originally published 03/18/2022 


Downtown Troy

Marian and Peggy window shopping in The Gilded Age

Credit: Alison Cohen Rosa / Courtesy of HBO

Of all the New York State filming locations that helped create the world of The Gilded Age, the epicenter was the city of Troy–its downtown filled with architecture that makes it perfect as a stand-in for the New York City of old. Areas like Monument Square were transformed with unpaved streets and storefronts decorated in Gilded Age fashion frequented by characters like Peggy Scott and Marian Brook. Today, downtown Troy is still home to a wide variety of boutique shops perfect for window shopping as well as hip eateries and one of the best farmers’ markets in the state.

Troy Savings Bank Music Hall

Troy Savings Bank Music Hall

The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall was ready for its Gilded Age closeup when it became the now-extinct Academy of Music, where lawyer Tom Raikes made romantic overtures to Marian. The Hall’s opulent interior has been carefully preserved, and is famous with musicians around the world for its perfect acoustics. Audiences fall in love with a full calendar of performances that range from classical to pop to comedy, including regular performances by the Grammy Award-winning Albany Symphony Orchestra.

Oakwood Cemetery Chapel & Crematorium, Troy

Oakwood Cemetery Chapel

Other Gilded Age locations filmed in Troy include the Rensselaer County Courthouse, Paine Castle, First United Presbyterian Church, and Washington Park, as well as historic Oakwood Cemetery (the resting place of the real Uncle Sam), and the Hart-Cluett Museum (now a historic home with a variety of exhibit galleries), both of which are Path Through History attractions, along with many others connected to The Gilded Age.

Cohoes Music Hall

Brick exterior of the Cohoes Music Hall

Credit: @preservenys on Instagram

In season two, the Cohoes Music Hall sets the stage for the premiere of Oscar Wilde’s first play Vera, standing in for Manhattan’s old Union Square Theatre where the production debuted in 1883. As the fourth oldest operating music hall in the country, the Cohoes Music Hall continues to delight audiences with a robust calendar of live music, theatrical performances, and comedy shows amid the beautifully detailed and historic architecture that’s as grand as when it first opened 150 years ago.

State Street

With its stunning 19th century architecture, Albany’s State Street plays a big role in season two’s opener, which sees the Russels, Van Rhijns, and the rest of New York City’s high society parading the streets in their Easter Sunday best. Washington Park and the surrounding streets can be seen as the characters make their way to and from church, while the First Presbyterian Church on the corner of Willett and State streets and the nearby St. Peter’s Episcopal Church act as the exterior and interior of Manhattan’s iconic St. Thomas Episcopal Church.

Hudson Valley

Glenview Historic Home

The interior of Glenview Mansion in The Gilded Age

Credit: Alison Cohen Rosa / Courtesy of HBO

Not coincidentally, The Gilded Age was also active filming in parts of New York State that were frequented by the rich and famous at the turn of the century, including several historic homes within the Hudson Valley that you can visit today. The Glenview Mansion in Yonkers served as the interior of Mrs. Astor’s home in the show. Today it can be toured as part of the Hudson River Museum which also contains art exhibits and a planetarium.

Lyndhurst Mansion

American Red Cross meeting at Lyndhurst Mansion in The Gilded Age

Credit: Alison Cohen Rosa / Courtesy of HBO

Lyndhurst Mansion, home of Aurora Fane, was actually home to railroad tycoon Jay Gould, who purchased the mansion in 1880, and is thought to have inspired the character of George Russell in the show. Its gothic, castle-like design distinguishes it from the homes of other wealthy neighbors in the region, and its interior provided the backdrop to the dramatic scene where Bertha Russell was elected to the board of the fledgling American Red Cross. The frequent carriage rides that characters in The Gilded Age take through New York City’s Central Park circa 1880 were actually shot on the Lyndhurst grounds. Visitors today can not only tour the mansion with its original period furniture and art, but can also enjoy the lush grounds, as well as special events like a crafts festival, spring flower show, and outdoor jazz concert series.

Vanderbilt Mansion

Interior of the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park

For travelers who love Gilded Age history as much as the show, there are other New York State locations that haven’t been included on The Gilded Age (yet) but involve characters and families mentioned throughout the series. The Vanderbilts, a railroad tycoon family themselves, are not only name-dropped in the show, but are said to be the basis for some of its main characters. The Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park is a national historic landmark sitting on 600 acres that overlook the majestic Hudson River. You can take an audio tour of the mansion, visit the formal gardens and hike the Vanderbilt Riverfront Trail.

Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site

Franklin D. Roosevelt Home in Hyde Park

The Roosevelts have also been mentioned on The Gilded Age as a prominent family, which was true even before Franklin and Eleanor became president and first lady. Just down the road from the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park is the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, the home purchased by Franklin’s father in 1867 that served as the future president’s lifelong home. The nation’s first Presidential Library is next door and Eleanor’s Val-Kill cottage, the first national historic site dedicated to a first lady, is across the road.  

Long Island

Gold Coast Mansions

Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park

Long Island served as the setting of The Great Gatsby because of its long-standing status as a playground for the elite. Surviving buildings and locations in the area known as the Gold Coast were a natural choice for The Gilded Age. Mansions featured in the show that you can visit today include the Hempstead House at Sands Point Preserve, a summer residence of the Guggenheim family that stood in as George Russell’s office in the show, and the mansion at Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park in Great River, whose 691 acres were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the famed landscape architect who designed Central Park and numerous other urban parks throughout New York State.

Vanderbilt Museum & Planetarium

Vanderbilt Mansion Photo by Patrick Keefee - Courtesy of Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum

Credit: Photo by Patrick Keefee – Courtesy of Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum

In addition to their mansion in the Hudson Valley, the Vanderbilts owned a 43-acre waterfront estate on Long Island. Its Eagle’s Nest mansion with antique furnishings allows visitors to see firsthand how the other half of the age lived. The Vanderbilt Museum & Planetarium is also home to a seaplane hangar, boathouse, and one of the largest and most advanced planetariums in the country.

Old Westbury Gardens

Old Westbury Gardens

This elegant estate featuring a 44-room English manor house (once home to a prominent Gold Coast family) and sprawling formal gardens with a distinguished foam-green pergola, made for the perfect setting for the show’s gossip-worthy garden party. Today you can explore both Westbury House, furnished with priceless antiques and decorative artwork, and the grounds which include sweeping lawns, wooded paths, and some of the most beautiful formal gardens in the world.

Old Bethpage Village

Denee Benton and Sullivan Jones as Peggy Scott and Mr. Fortune in the Gilded Age during a scene filmed at Old Bethpage Village

Credit: Barbara Nitke/Courtesy of HBO

Immerse yourself in 19th-century Long Island at Old Bethpage Village, a living history museum featuring historic buildings dating from the 1660s through the 1870s. In the show it serves as the setting for Peggy Scott and T. Thomas Fortune’s trip to Tuskegee, Alabama with some of the buildings standing in for the train station and trailblazer Booker T. Washington’s historic home, Oaks. (Scenes featuring the Tuskegee Institute classroom were filmed at the Jacob Purdy House in White Plains while Bea’s restaurant was filmed at the Queens Farm Museum.) You can visit the village to explore the homes and farms, learn about past trade and craft practices, and attend a variety of seasonal events including the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze in the fall and Candlelight Evenings in winter.

New York City

Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park arch in front of pink cherry blossoms

Credit: @nyclovesnyc on Instagram

While many of the buildings discussed in The Gilded Age sadly no longer exist, there are many other locations that feature prominently in the story that have survived to this day. Stanford White, designer of the Russells’ opulent home and George’s train station in the show, was a prominent architect in real life, and a number of his buildings and other structures still exist in New York City. White designed the iconic arch in Washington Square Park to commemorate the 100th anniversary of George Washington’s 1789 inauguration. He also designed the Judson Memorial Church on the opposite side of the park, as well as what is now the Angelika Film Center on Houston Street in Soho and the Lotte New York Palace luxury hotel on Madison Avenue. White’s design for the original Pennsylvania Station also inspired elements of the new Moynihan Train Hall. (The White-designed Reid Castle at Manhattanville College’s campus in Purchase has also been featured in the show.)

Central and Madison Parks

Louisa Jacobson as Marian Brook and Thomas Cocquerel as Tom Raikes standing on the Bethesda Terrace in Central Park on the set of The Gilded Age.


The Bethesda Fountain where Peggy and Marian meet Tom still towers over the lakeside terrace at the heart of Central Park (pictured). Today, the iconic fountain shares the park’s 843 sprawling acres with performance spaces, an antique carousel, and a zoo. Further downtown is Madison Square Park where the trio saw the Statue of Liberty’s arm on display as a fundraiser to make the full statue a reality years later (which is also a true story!). While this scene was actually filmed at Washington Park in Troy, today Madison Square Park is an urban oasis in the shadow of the historic Flatiron Building, and across the road from mid-range European-style restaurants such as Eataly, a large artisanal Italian food and wine marketplace, and Maman, a rustic French restaurant. The park also borders world-famous Fifth Avenue, and the newly opened Harry Potter flagship store.

Finger Lakes

American Red Cross, Clara Barton House Chapter #1

The American Red Cross in The Gilded Age

Credit: Alison Cohen Rosa / Courtesy of HBO

American Civil War Nurse and Red Cross Founder Clara Barton appears in a number of episodes of The Gilded Age, including one where the socialites of New York City travel upstate to Dansville, New York, to support her in her work. The Dansville Red Cross building on Elizabeth Street is where she established the first Red Cross. Named in her honor, it remains Chapter #1 and is open for tours of its museum of Red Cross history.

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