The Hudson River is lined from one end to the other with grand manor houses, but none compares to Kykuit (pronounced "Kye-cut"). It's not the oldest or even the largest of the estates, but many people find it the most spectacular. When John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil, built Kykuit in its present classical Greek-Roman style in 1913, he was the richest man in the world. The estate, which became home to four generations of one of America's most famous business and philanthropic families, is architecturally grand and spectacularly sited and landscaped, with lovely stone terraces, fountains, and extensive Italianate formal gardens. Kykuit also houses Governor (and later Vice President) Nelson Rockefeller's incredible collection of 20th-century modern art, which graces the gardens and fills the entire lower level of the house. The sculpture collection includes important works by Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Constantin Brancusi, and David Smith among its 70 works, all placed with great care to take maximum advantage of the gardens and their sweeping views of the Hudson (both perhaps unequaled by any of the great river estates). Outstanding among the pieces in the very Sixties art gallery in the house is a unique series of giant and shockingly vibrant tapestries commissioned from Pablo Picasso.
Visits to Kykuit begin at Philipsburg Manor; coaches shuttle visitors to Kykuit. Tours of Kykuit last between 2 and 3 hours. Choose from among several different tours depending on your interest: Classic Tour (main floor, inner gardens, and outdoor sculpture); in-depth Grand Tour; Selected Highlights Tour; and Timesaver Tour. In high season, tours often sell out by midday; advance reservations for individuals are suggested especially for the Grand Tour.