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Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes trades England for the U.S. in HBO’s lavish new period drama The Gilded Age. The series, which premieres Jan. 24, takes place in the late 19th century and pits an old-money New York family against a nouveau riche railroad tycoon and his striving wife. The social scheming plays out in Manhattan’s tony mansions and the lavish estates of Newport, Rhode Island, where some filming for the show took place.     

Many scenes for ‘The Gilded Age’ were filmed in Rhode Island 

Two women, one holding a parasol, and a man in a straw boater hat, walking across a lawn in 'The Gilded Age'
Amy Forsyth, Ashlie Atkinson, and Harry Richardson in ‘The Gilded Age’ | Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

During the Gilded Age, families such as the Astors and the Vanderbilts built “cottages” in Newport where they could escape the city in the summer and socialize with other members of the elite. Many of these mansions are still standing. Several were tapped as filming locations for the new series. 

The Breakers, Chateau-sur-Mer, Marble House, Rosecliff, The Elms, and The Ledges all appear in the series, according to The Providence Journal. However, one famous house didn’t make it into the show: Beechwood. The mansion was owned by the Astor family, and members of the family are characters in The Gilded Age. Location manager Lauri Pitkus said current owner, former Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, denied a request to film at the home.     

Troy, New York, stands in for 19th-century Manhattan 

A white woman and a Black woman, both in 19th century dress, standing in front of an omnibus in HBO's 'The Gilded Age'
Louisa Jacobson and Denée Benton in ‘The Gilded Age’ | Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

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Though much of The Gilded Age takes place in New York City, the only Manhattan location used was the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. Instead, street scenes were filmed on a studio backlot. 

Troy, New York, also stood in for 19th century New York City, according to New York Upstate. Filming took place around the city’s Washington Park, a private park similar to NYC’s Gramercy Park, and Monument Square area. Oakwood Cemetery, the Troy Savings Bank Musical Hall, Troy Public Library, the Rensselaer County Court House also make appearances on screen, according to the Albany Times-Union

Why so much of ‘The Gilded Age’ was filmed in Troy   

For filmmakers, shooting parts of The Gilded Age in Troy had several advantages. Tax credits were an incentive, a local expert told WMHT (via Twitter). Plus, the city has a large collection of 19th-century buildings, making it easier to recreate the feel of old New York. 

“Troy just has this wealth of houses from the 1830s, the 1840s, the 1850s,” The Gilded Age production designer Bob Shaw told WMHT. “You can go to Washington Park and have somebody walk around the entire perimeter and with very few exceptions, and almost no noticeable exceptions, have houses that are of the period of 1882 of our story.”  

The Gilded Age premieres Monday, Jan. 24 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. 

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