Illustrations Travel Back to New York’s Gilded Age

The so called Gilded Age in American history, was one of enormous industrial, urban and agricultural growth… one which saw a previously sleepy nation step forth as a major player on the world stage. The name for the era, coined by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in their book The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (1873), made reference to the process of coating cheap metal in a thin layer of gold… effectively making something cheap look more desirable. The term was a humorous jab at an era where many people complained of wildly ostentatious displays of wealth, crass manners, political corruption, and often shoddy ethics. But, for all its shortcomings it was an extremely exciting time, and artist Eric Rosner knows it.


His beautiful illustration work focuses on the era from a distinctly New York perspective. Covering the years between 1880 and 1910, he draws the architecture and street life of the vintage Big Apple, all with his uniquely sketchy yet calculated style. The look lends itself well to the energy of the bustling city, which found itself at once advancing into the future and decaying with age. His colored tones and textures give the works a look something like old paper, as if the illustrations themselves have seen the passing of time since the exciting era.

To travel back to the Gilded Age, see more of Rosner’s excellent illustrations at or see his blog for the latest (including a visit from Alec Baldwin at his latest opening).

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