Museum of the City of New York

An Audio Guide for a Walking Tour of Gilded New York

Walking Through History on City Streets

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To produce an audio guide walking tour that would bring the exhibition Gilded New York out of the Museum and into the streets of the city and reveal stories about New York’s wealthiest elite at the turn of the 20th century, while visiting the extravagant mansions and lofty cultural monuments they built up and down and around Fifth Avenue.


Concept Consulting Editing Audio Production



Press Coverage



Principal Robin White Owen worked closely with Jessica Lautin, Associate Curator at the Museum of the City of New York, to create the mobile app.

It’s full of wonderful stories about the lives of the rich and famous – Astors and Carnegies, Fricks and Vanderbilts, to name a few – and places like Tiffany’s, where they bought their jewels; Delmonico’s, where they dined; Lord & Taylor, where they shopped; and the Metropolitan Club, where they socialized.

Some of these buildings no longer exist. Some, like the Warburg mansion, have been repurposed. For example, Frieda Warburg gave their home to The Jewish Theological Seminary for the Jewish Museum. Fortunately, several survive and walking from one to the other, while listening to these stories, enriches our understanding of what makes New York such a great city.

You can listen and look at scores of photographs of the original buildings and their owners, their jewels, evening gowns, and decorative objects, while you walk. Or you can sit on your couch and be an armchair traveler for an afternoon, while taking the tour of all 18 stops on your iPad.

Actress Grace Gummer narrates the tour. The app was produced by Acoustiguide and can be downloaded from the Apple Store or Google Play.

The Outcome

People have enjoyed engaging with history while using A Walk Through Gilded New York.  The app has been used over 19,000 times, helping users to seamlessly merge the past and present, and to imagine what life was like for the wealthiest New Yorkers.

iPhone and iPad pictures of Gilded New York app.


What Others
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Delmonico’s rival, Sherry’s, hosted one of the most talked about events of the nineteenth century: a horseback dinner at which guests rode their steeds to the restaurant and never dismounted. They were served by waiters, also on horses, who attached trays and saddles filled with champagne that the guests then drank through rubber tubes.


At Siegel-Cooper department store, shoppers could drop their children off at daycare, explore 125 shopping departments, visit the observatory on the roof, go to a restaurant, see a dentist, deposit a check and send a telegraph, all in one place!


Jewelry was an essential status symbol for the city’s rich during the Gilded Age and the tiara was the most highly regarded. Yet Consuelo Vanderbilt complained that her bejeweled dog collar chafed her neck, and that her heavy tiara gave her a violent headache.