Mad Men gives us a glimpse into the lives of Madison Avenue ad men. Fittingly their brand of debauchery falls somewhere between the secrets of the Upper East Side and the brazen openness that was blooming in Greenwich Village. Viewers are brought into the 1960s through award-winning style and design and kept there by the acting, fashion and three-martini lunches. The cast is led by Jon Hamm and January Jones as Don & Betty Draper, John Slattery as Roger Sterling and Christina Hendricks in the role of the incomparable redhead Joan. All have been nominated for numerous Golden Globe and Emmy Awards and can be all over the big and small screens. January Jones is even set to join the cast of X-Men as Emma Frost, a role far from Ossining homemaker. Of course, her role on Mad Men much more than homemaker, these complexities make the show what it is.
In the show’s first three seasons the offices of Sterling Cooper were located between 47th and 48th streets at 405 Madison Avenue, right in the heart of the advertising district. This is just a few short blocks from the Roosevelt Hotel (where Don stays when Betty kicks him out). The new offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Price are in the first modern structure built on Sixth Avenue, the Time & Life Building (50th and Sixth Avenue) that is seen while driving on the NYC TV & Movie Tour. This building opened in 1959 to much fanfare, including a ribbon cutting by Marilyn Monroe. The Oak Ro0m at The Plaza Hotel is also seen on the TV & Movie Tour.
In the first episode of season 4, Don’s secretary reminds him of a woman he met at the Ziegfeld. The Ziegfeld Theater use to be on Sixth Avenue and 54th Street, this theater was named in honor of the original Ziegfeld which was built in 1927. After the Depression the building was used as a movie theater, and later as a television studio for NBC, by 1964 it was again a Broadway theater. Of course Don Draper meets women all over this city.
One night out was spent at the Gaslight Café on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village. Opened in 1958, it was home to performances by Allen Ginsburg, Richie Havens, Bill Cosby and Bob Dylan. This bastion of the counter culture gave us a hint at the other side of Don. In later episodes this is the neighborhood where Draper moves after his divorce, the walk-up depicted is thought to be 136 Waverly Place. Peggy Olsen, played by Elisabeth Moss, also seems to be headed downtown, towards the artists’ dens of the Village, away from any traditional path.
An appreciation of this era in New York City history has women wearing kitten heals with their dresses, men returning to suits, and everyone appreciating an old fashioned once in awhile. Even though Mad Men is not filmed in New York, they have done a tremendous job of capturing the essence of the city at a time before Times Square was cleaned up, a time before it needed to be.
* In an effort to stay current, we are constantly updating our tours with new locations and cannot guarantee the presence of locations mentioned on our site. If you have a particular interest in locations from a specific TV show or movie, please let your tour guide know and we will do our best to accommodate your request.