Visiting the world of 'Mad Men'
It may be impossible to time travel back to 1960s-era New York, but that hasn’t stopped some "Mad Men" fans and haunts featured on the TV show from trying.
"Mad Men," which premiers its fifth season on Sunday, is filmed predominately in Los Angeles, but nostalgia for the fictional advertising world of Don Draper and his fellow Madison Avenue executives has spawned a wave of tourism in Manhattan, where the drama is set.
The show “is as quintessentially New York as yellow taxis and pastrami on rye,” writes NYC & Company, the official marketing, tourism and partnership organization for New York City.
“New York City is the center of media and pop culture — visitors are drawn here partly because they see the city portrayed in film and television and it feels familiar to them,” said Kimberly Spell, chief communications officer for NYC & Company. Shows like “Mad Men” “accentuate the unique vibrancy, style and glamour of the city.”
Leading up to the premier, the city is boasting special hotel packages, "Mad Men"-themed cocktails, walking tours, and ample opportunities to dress up in period attire and turn back the clocks to soak up the retro style and glamour of the 1960s.
Here is a round up of some of them:
NYC Discovery Walking Tours offers fans a chance to stroll through midtown, taking in the history and architecture of the era. On “The World of Mad Men: NYC During the Early 1960’s,” stops include the Summit Hotel, the Seagram Building, the Pan Am Building, and the Lever House, and other places Don Draper might have seen when he leaves his office to buy a “35 cent pack of cigarettes and meet a client for lunch.” The public tour, which costs $20, is offered on Saturday, March 24, at 2 p.m. and Sunday, March 25, at 4:30 p.m. Call 212-465-3331 for reservations and meeting place. Tours by private appointment are also available.
Richard Anthony, one of NYC Discovery Walking Tours’ historians, said he and colleagues were impressed with the show’s authenticity. The scripts “are very well-researched, they aren’t at all arbitrary.” In recent months “there’s been a big buzz about 'Mad Men'; it’s led to this birth of interest in New York” during the early 60s. The private tour was given about four times in recent weeks, Anthony said. “People are always looking for that part of New York history they want to escape to.”
Several companies offer general tours, including NYC Discovery Walking Tours’ “Famous Movie Sites of the East Side” and the guided bus tour “New York TV & Movie Sites,” given by On Location Tours, that pass or point out "Mad Men" locations, like the Time & Life Building and the Ziegfeld Theatre.
The Roosevelt Hotel NYC, the setting of several episodes and where Don Draper lived in Season 2 after his wife Betty threw him out, offers a “Mad Men in the City” package. Included are a stay in a newly renovated room, 1960s-inspired mixers at mad46, the 19th floor rooftop bar or at Madison Club Lounge, one of Draper’s frequent hot spots in the hotel’s lobby: two tickets to The Paley Center for Media; and copies of "Mad Men" Season 4 on DVD and the newly released “Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook” to take home. The package starts at $425 a night for a minimum three-night stay, and is available fromMarch 1 to June 30.
The Pierre, a Taj Hotel, which has appeared in previous episodes, offers guests the chance to sip classic cocktails from the early 60s and “dress up in their favorite 'Mad Men'-inspired garb and embrace their inner Don Draper and Joan Holloway” beginning on March 27 and on every Tuesday throughout the season. The offer is part of the regular weekly complimentary jazz music series from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Two E Bar/Lounge. Cocktails on the special drink menu cost $14 and include Irish Coffee, one of fictional character Roger Sterling’s staples, and the Bikini Martini, “the most voluptuous drink in town,” inspired by Christina Hendricks, who portrays Joan Holloway, made with Hendrick’s Gin, Peach Schnapps and Blue Curacao.
The Paley Center for Media will host a “'Mad Men' Season Premiere Viewing Party” on Sunday, March 25, at 8 p.m. The fifth season premiere will be shown on the big screen, “all the better to soak up that gorgeous period detail.” Before the screening, there will be an era-appropriate cocktail party and a "Mad Men" Trivia contest. Guests will receive a Season 5 "Mad Men" poster, and are invited to “break out the sharp suits, pocket squares, and kicky frocks.” During the screening, commercial breaks will show actual ads from the early sixties, featuring Sterling Cooper clients like London Fog and Lucky Strike. Tickets cost $30.
Though three-martini lunches and desk-side scotch cabinets may be largely gone in the 21st century, according to NYC & Company, its website invites prospective visitors to plan a self-guided tour by viewing a slideshow that features sites that appeared in the series or are tied in to the time period, like Sardi’s Restaurant and P.J. Clarke's, a vintage watering hole where patrons can still drink “frosty mugs of beer and hear Frank Sinatra on the jukebox, while the dining room serves up mouthwatering comfort food (including, according to Nat King Cole, ‘the Cadillac of burgers.’” But one word of advice from the slideshow: do not waste time looking for 405 Madison Avenue, the address of the fictional advertising agency: it doesn't exist.
More on Itineraries