The Gilded Age Locations
Apart from the melodrama, plots, and subplots, the real treat is in The Gilded Age filming locations. Most in-home shooting was done in real places in New York and Newport, with very few scenes shot at sets. The reason for this was that The Gilded Age production team wanted to maintain the authenticity of the locations without compromising on the quality of the show.
While there are very few funny scenes in The Gilded Age, there is humor, just not comedy. The team wanted to ensure the gravity of the characters' emotions was reflected by the filming locations. The beauty of the series lies in the old-world summer homes and manor houses still standing in New York State.
Some incredible locations were The Breakers, The Elms, Rosecliff, Hunter House, and Chateau-sur-Mer in Newport. Sites like Bethesda Terrace and Fountain at Central Park, Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, and Troy in New York were also used to add authenticity to the period melodrama.
Teaser: Most of the exterior shots in The Gilded Age were shot in Troy, which was made to look like old-world Manhattan and Fifth Avenue. The production team even resurfaced the roads with dirt, and the city council allowed the filming to happen in the central Town Square for more than three weeks! Fans can definitely take a trip down memory lane and compare the real-life views with those on the series.
Gilded means covered in gold, not golden – like several of the issues hidden beneath the surface plots of the series. The Gilded Age follows a somewhat-real story of how the financially booming Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Goulds were socially challenged by old-money families like the Schermerhorns and Astors in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The kitchen introduction scene in The Gilded Age
The Elms, Newport
While not one of the best scenes in The Gilded Age, this shooting is quite critical to showing the development of characters. It is where the household staff of the Van Rhijn family is introduced to Peggy for the first time. Here she meets Mr. Church the Butler (Jack Gilpin), Ms. Bridget the housemaid (Taylor Richardson), Mrs. Armstrong the lady's maid (Debra Monk), Mrs. Bauer the cook (Kristine Nielsen), and Mr. Treacher (Ben Ahlers) the footman.
While they are in the kitchen at the dinner table, Mr. Church explains the sleeping arrangements. Bridget has issues with Peggy sleeping on the same floor as her and Mrs. Armstrong since Peggy is a woman of color. Mr. Church asks, "Is there some difficulty?" to which Bridget does not respond and instead sits down glumly. Mrs. Bauer asks Peggy, "Do you drink coffee?" and Peggy reacts positively. Mrs. Bauer looks at Bridget, who gets up in a huff and slams a cup and saucer before Peggy, indicating her unhappiness to be of service.
The Gilded Age production team decided to use the famous property The Elms to shoot all the kitchen scenes of the staff. The house conservators of The Elms helped the production by closing off the kitchens to conduct all The Gilded Age shootings without interruption. To get to The Elms, hop onto bus number 67 and get off at Bellvue After Dixon. From the bus stop, just walk for a minute to reach the property.
Bertha Russell's party scene in The Gilded Age
The Breakers, Newport
In this scene, Bertha (portrayed by Carrie Coon) and George Russell (Morgan Spector) are hosting a party at their new residence as an announcement and a welcome to all the distinguished families in New York. However, not many of the socially forward crowd in New York attend, angering Mrs. Russell. Architect Stanford White (played by John Sanders) says to Mrs. Russell, "I'm pleased with the size. It's big enough to be splendid but not oppressive." Mrs. Russell nicely responds, "I agree. One needs to be able to breathe." Stanford White further comments about the clock in the lobby and says it comes from the Hotel de Soubise in Paris' Marais District.
Towards the middle of the party, people start leaving, and Mrs. Russell even insults a few guests who have to come to her home only for their own monetary gain. Bertha Russell gets extremely upset, lashes out at those around her, and vows revenge on all the ladies who shunned her glorious entry into the New York social circle.
The Gilded Age location is the Great Hall and Music Room in The Breakers, Newport, built for Cornelius Vanderbilt II in 1895. It has gorgeous Neo-Italian Renaissance architecture and is open to visitors. To get here, catch bus number 67 from Newport Visitor Center and get off at Ochre Point Before Victoria. From here, walk a minute to The Breakers.
The social gathering scene in The Gilded Age
The Ledges, Newport
In this scene, Mrs. Bertha Russell, with her daughter Gladys (portrayed by Taissa Farmiga), attends the social gathering hosted by Mrs. Fish (played by Ashley Atkinson). Mrs. Russell decides to introduce herself and her daughter to the first lady she sees – Mrs. Fane (Kelli O'Hara), who introduces them to Mrs. Morris (portrayed by Katie Finneran). Mrs. Russell makes small talk with Mrs. Fane and Mrs. Morris and tries to show her superiority by proclaiming their architect trained in Europe. Mrs. Morris tries to be snide and says, "How brave not to go with the same old builders everyone else uses," Mrs. Russell replies, "I don't think we should be afraid of new things ... or new people."
Mrs. Fane and Mrs. Morris look extremely uncomfortable and cannot decide how to be polite to Mrs. Russell and her daughter Gladys, so they continue with some idle chitchat while gauging the Russells' response to everything.
This The Gilded Age filming location is the iconic home of the Cushing Family, The Ledges, established in 1867. This property is still privately owned by family members and was used to film 'Evening' and 'The Buccaneers'. It is best to get to Kingston Railroad Station and take bus number 64 to Newport Visitor Center. From there, bus number 67 will take you to Bellevue After Ledge. From this bus stop, it's a few minutes' walk to the stately property.
Visit to the home of Aurora Fane scene in The Gilded Age
Lyndhurst Mansion, Tarrytown
In this scene, all the socially elite wives of influential members of New York meet at the home of Mrs. Aurora Fane (Kelli O'Hara) to discuss the upcoming charity bazaar for women and children. Each of the women will purchase a stall to sell products or goods to the public, and all proceeds will go to charity.
When at the house, Marian Brook (portrayed by Louisa Jacobson) asks the ladies, "Have you asked Mrs. Russell?" to which Mrs. Morris replies, "We won't go down that route again." All the other women murmur their approval of this proclamation. Marian again tries hard and says, "I don't see why not. I like her." Hearing her, Mrs. Fane says, "Careful, my dear. Or I'll report you to Aunt Agnes."
The Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown was used for this scene in The Gilded Age. It was selected for the stately manor and stained-glass windows (in the reception room). It was built in 1838 by the then Mayor William Paulding Jr. Known for its Gothic Revival architecture, Lyndhurst Manor was the home of robber baron Jay Gould. To visit this home (now a museum), catch the 621 Southeast train to White Plains and a bus from White Plains Bus Terminal to S Broadway at Tarryhill Rd. Walk a few minutes to the Mansion.
Marian and Peggy visit the park scene in The Gilded Age
Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, Central Park, New York
In this scene, Marian and her companion Peggy Scott (portrayed by Denee Benton) walk through the park while discussing the financial problems of their common acquaintance. Kind-hearted Marian is always worried and realizes she needs to do something about the money. Peggy says to Marian, "I'm afraid we're a little late," Marian responds, "I'm sure he'll wait. I can find the money. I just have to figure out how to get it without telling anyone why I need it." Peggy says, "I don't believe in secrets! I don't believe in them because they never work. Everything always comes out in the end." So, Marian looks at her and says, "Really? You should know. You keep secrets better than most!"
They then go ahead to the fountain and meet Marian's lawyer from Doylestown, Mr. Tom Raikes (portrayed by Thomas Cocquerel). Peggy wishes to gain legal advice from Tom regarding the financial matter.
This scene is shot at the famous Bethesda Terrace and Fountain in Central Park in New York. Built in the 1860s, this historic fountain is the perfect setting for a period drama like The Gilded Age. To get here, catch a bus to Central Park, and walk into the park. Follow the signs till you come to Bow Bridge to get to Bethesda Terrace and Fountain.
Mingling with the other elite scene in The Gilded Age
International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum, Newport
In this scene, most of the social elite are relaxing and mingling in their summer homes in Newport while playing lawn tennis at the Newport Casino – a sporting club. The New York elite crowd of the Gilded Age mingled here for dancing, dining, lawn tennis, croquet, lawn bowling, and court tennis.
At the casino, Mrs. Fish (played by Ashley Atkinson) obnoxiously asks, "Why aren't the rest of you playing?" to which Mrs. Russell replies, "I expect they're enjoying the sun." So Mrs. Fish replies, "Nobody talks about anything else but enjoying themselves." Mrs. Fish tries to be nasty and asks Mrs. Russell about how Mr. Russell is and if he's not in Newport because he will be on trial.
Mrs. Russell realizes the game Mrs. Fish is trying to play and responds, "If it were, I would've stayed with him in New York. He's not in any trouble. But he has too many meetings to be able to join us. He likes to be thorough."
This filming location of The Gilded Age is the grandiose International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum, Newport. One of the best scenes in The Gilded Age is shot here. This is also where the 1881 U.S National Men's Singles Championship was held. Hop onto bus number 76 and get off at Bellevue opposite the Tennis Hall of Fame bus stop to get here.
Since The Gilded Age is a period drama, fans can expect several more exciting plot twists, fabulous on-shoot locations, and subplots in season 2. While it is a fictional soap opera with a heavy slice of old-world realism and drama, many of the episodes have thought-provoking societal issues that balloon into significant plots.
The snooty acting, 'correct' English, costumes, shooting locations, and the gilded air of all the scenes gives viewers a glimpse into old-world New York. While the world was changing, it was interesting to see how the dynamics of ambitious, power-hungry individuals shaped the lives of so many people.
The Gilded Age has everything from scandalous suicides to train wrecks, with several plot holes that have left fans wanting much more from season 2. Production-wise, The Gilded Age is a masterpiece with the perfect feel and aesthetic needed for a period drama centered around a vicious social battle between new and old money.