12.26.2014
By Markets Media Life

Taste of the Gilded Age

By May Zhee Lim, Markets Media Life Correspondent

You may know the estate by its historic name, Hyde Park, and its association with the Roosevelts. But the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site was home to socially prominent New Yorkers for nearly two centuries and is presently a precious window into the Gilded Age. It also happens to be one of the oldest country estates in America, and sheds light on the societal changes brought about by post-Civil War industrialization.

Image via Flickr/Michael McMahon

Image via Flickr/Michael McMahon

The estate’s well-preserved architecture, furnished interiors, technological systems, and landscapes make it a fine example of a Gilded Age country place. Over 200 acres of the original property, from its natural woodlands and formal gardens to related objects and documents, have been restored by the National Park Service. More than just a tribute to the wealthy individuals or families of the era, the estate is a repository of knowledge as pertains to the American country house, the domestic lives of its residents and staff, and its relationship to the outside world.

Image via Flickr/Michael McMahon

Image via Flickr/Michael McMahon

The mansion itself, accessible only by a guided walking tour, is a masterpiece of American Beaux-Arts movement and designed by prominent architects of the time. The park land is free and open to the public, boasting centuries-old plants, picturesque views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountain, and Frederick Vanderbilt’s Italian-style terrace garden. If time permits, a drive down Hyde Park Trail will take you to the historic sites of the Roosevelts. There, you will find the Presidential Library and Museum, the famous Top Cottage, and the only national historic site dedicated to a First Lady.

The Vanderbilt Mansion NHS is located at 119 Vanderbilt Park Road, Hyde Park, NY (90 miles north of New York City). The Metro-North Commuter Railroad and Amtrak both stop in Poughkeepsie, about 5 miles south of the park. Taxi service is available to the park.

From November 2014 to April 2015, tours are an hour long and offered at 10:00,12:00, 2:00 and 4:00.

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