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This New App Takes You Back in Time to New York City's Gilded Age

By Shaye Weaver | March 8, 2017 1:59pm | Updated on March 8, 2017 2:55pm

Watch some of the city's most iconic Gilded Age buildings, like the Waldorf Astoria or the Andrew Carnegie House, travel back in time right before your eyes with a new app from The Museum of the City of New York.

"A Walk Through Gilded New York," guides users with an audio tour and images of 15 historic sites, transitioning from how the buildings look now to drawings and photographs taken during the period starting from the late 19th century up to World War I.

Stops on the virtual tour include Tiffany & Co.'s original headquarters, the sites of Siegel-Cooper and Lord & Taylor department stores, the Metropolitan Opera House, the Morgan Library, the William K. Vanderbilt house, Delmonico's Restaurant and the Plaza.

Each location includes roughly 2 minutes of narration by actress Grace Grummer — known for her role as Nora Ephron in Amazon's "Good Girls Revolt" series and for other roles in Mr. Robot and American Horror Story. The entire two-hour tour covers areas from Union Square all the way up to 105th Street in East Harlem.

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Grummer explains the history of each site and paints a picture of what it was like to live during the Gilded Age.

In the narration for the former Tiffany & Co. headquarters, Grummer describes its "ebony cases filled with diamonds watches and silverware, black walnut tables topped with fans, pocket books, opera glasses and bronze statues," Grummer reads.

Users will also hear stories about figures like Andrew Carnegie and William K. Vanderbilt. In one entry, she rekindles Mark Twain's 70th birthday at Delmonico's.

The app also has a gallery of objects from the Gilded Age, including a jewel-encrusted tiara, a gold dog collar necklace, a cigarette case, opera glasses and a number of dresses worn during the period.

The Museum of the City of New York launched the app last week to go with its exhibition "Gilded New York," which displays 100 works, including costumes, jewelry, portraits, and decorative objects all created between the mid-1870s and the early 20th century.

The Gilded Age, which was "often derided for its excess," was one of America's finest times for arts and design, according to museum officials.

"The United States — and its cultural capital, New York City — achieved a new level of sophistication in painting, sculpture, architecture and the decorative arts, enabling the nation to compete for the first time on a world stage and giving rise to a golden age that was worthy of the name 'American Renaissance,'" officials said.

Download the app for free on iPhone and Android. The modern day photos of sites in the tour were taken by photographer Harlan Erskine.