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“The avenue of the Gilded Age 1%”
Review of Bellevue Avenue

Bellevue Avenue
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$27.00*
and up
Scenic Overview of Newport Viking Trolley Tour
Ranked #7 of 114 things to do in Newport
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Part of the 10-mile Ocean Drive and home to many well-known mansions.
Fleming Island, Florida
Level Contributor
127 reviews
60 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 61 helpful votes
“The avenue of the Gilded Age 1%”
Reviewed July 16, 2014

Bellevue Avenue is the main street to access all the Gilded Age mansions of Newport. Bellevue can be horrifically congested during the summer, so drive with a lot of patience, and do not be in a rush. A visitor should definitely visit as many of the mansions as possible. Buy a 5 mansion ticket from the Preservation Society for the best deal.

The mansions are all Big Ego Mansions of the 1% in the late 19th, and early 20th century. When the average wage was around $400 yearly, the 1% would budget an entertainment expense of $200K, which translates to $1 million in today's money. They lived in a bubble, and the bubble travelled with them wherever they went.

The mansions are all about power and money, and out-impressing their neighbors. The extravagance of the mansions, and their owners, showed a callous indifference to the average citizen. The owners basically raised their middle finger to the rest of the country. I know they contributed a lot of money to many philanthropic organizations, and they should be commended for that. I also know that it was their money, and they could do with it whatever they wanted to do. Listen carefully to their individual stories, and learn how peculiar some of them were, and their high sense of entitlement.

My reaction was twofold: awe and anger. The mansions are indeed awe inspiring from both the interior design and exterior grounds and landscaping. I got angry thinking about how much all that money could have done for education, community health, and poverty relief. It just seemed to be such a grand waste to build a huge mansion that was used 6-8 weeks a year, just to impress themselves and their neighbors.

The Gilded Age is still with us today, but on a smaller scale. Just look around in any city today, and you'll find that each city has its own 1%. It's just basic human nature for people to sort themselves out according to their individual socio-economic status. So, has anything changed since the Gilded Age? No, not really. The only rivals today to the Gilded 1% are hedge fund managers, private equity managers, corporate CEO's, and the like.

It's interesting to note, that no one lives in these mansions anymore. The descendants cannot afford them, so there they sit empty, for your touring enjoyment. There is a lesson to be learned from the emptiness of these mansions. As our country's financial inequality widens, remember the events in France in 1789. Our middle class is the social fabric that is keeping the country stable. Once they give up hope, then anything can happen, and probably will

Visited July 2014
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1 Thank John G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Stamford CT
Level Contributor
203 reviews
69 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 79 helpful votes
“Pretty house...”
Reviewed July 15, 2014

Lots of traffic! If you don't like being stuck in traffic, especially on the weekends, avoid this road at all cost!

Visited July 2014
Helpful?
Thank CTKath
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Baltimore, Maryland
Level Contributor
233 reviews
92 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 377 helpful votes
“One of New England's Most Beautiful Streets”
Reviewed July 12, 2014

A casual drive up and down Bellevue Avenue on a nice spring or fall day is one the best Newport experiences that a traveler can have in the "City by the Sea". The overhanging trees, the wide adjoining lawns, the gated entrances and the glimpses of the fabulous Newport "cottages" can be magical on a weekday in May or September. Just imagine yourself as a rich plutocrat in 1896, driving down the avenue in your open carriage drawn by 6 fine horses, on the way to your 180-foot private steamer anchored in Newport harbor!

My favorite stop on the Avenue is looking into the street-side entrance and lawn of the privately owned Claredon Court at 626 Bellevue Ave., where the rich and addicted Sunny von Bulow experienced her last conscious hours. (Watch the wonderful film, Reversal of Fortune, for one view of her sad life in this fabulous mansion.)

I highly recommend visiting Newport in the late spring and early fall if you want to visit the mansions, stroll along the historic streets and eat in the great pubs and restaurants. Summer weekends are the very worst time to visit Newport because of the huge crowds and lack of parking.

Visited June 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank WorldTravellerMan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
348 reviews
102 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 105 helpful votes
“Great gain an glimpse of the Mansions”
Reviewed July 11, 2014

Bellevue avenue is a nice drive to see a large portion of the Newport Mansions from the front or road side versus the ocean. It is a nice contrast to the "boardwalk" style atmosphere of the water front.

Visited July 2014
Helpful?
Thank Scott M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Eustis, Florida
Level Contributor
39 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Every house should be a museum.”
Reviewed July 9, 2014

Just walking down Bellevue Avenue was worth the trip. The houses are all well maintained, lawns beautifully landscaped. It is amazing to see so many elegant homes in one area. Just as amazing as the house museums was the number of other houses of equal grandeur that are private homes.

Visited June 2014
Helpful?
Thank Floridia_traveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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