Disclosure: I was invited to review On Location Tours, but all opinions are my own.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, now in its third season, is one of my favorite shows of the last decade. Its depiction of a Jewish family in NYC in the late 1950s plus the writing by Amy Sherman-Palladino plus the acting plus the active chatter all resonate on a very personal level. I love the characters – they have spunk, charisma, charm, and a whole lot of Jewishness. The writing is also very unique, funny, and so very NYC – at least, the NYC I have come to know and love in the 20+ years I have been living here (or near).
So, when On Location Tours invited me to come on their Mrs. Maisel’s Marvelous Tour of New York City, a 2.5-hour bus tour that covers multiple areas of NYC, all with places where Midge and other characters visit in the show, I jumped at the chance. I was hungry for behind the scenes knowledge of how the streets of Manhattan were disguised to look like the 1950s. Plus, I’m a culture vulture so I long for doses to feed my hobby, so I grabbed my mom on a Saturday afternoon, and we joined in.
It was easy to find the tour bus on 34th Street. Our tour guide, Stephanie, was (proudly) Jewish (like me) and extremely knowledgeable about everything Mrs. Maisel. She showed clips from the show about every location we visited and provided morsels and nuggets of real insider’s information about the actors and writers working behind the scenes of the show. here are so many locations used in Maisel, all over NYC, so it was fascinating to see where the tour would take us. It was also marvelous to be doing the tour during the holidays while the city was decked out in lights.
We started at the exterior of B. Altman, the department store Midge goes to work for at the makeup counter in the first two seasons, at 365 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street. The landmarked building today is the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. I could feel Midge going in and out of work, and eventually flying out for the last time to officially become a comedian. Next, at Old Town Bar on East 45th Street, we saw where Joel, Midge’s estranged husband discuss failed relationships with his closest friend.
Further downtown, we saw the Gaslight Cafe – a coffeehouse and music venue where Midge performs. The Music Inn, located at West 4th Street, is where Susie, Midge’s manager, overheard the recording of Midge the first night she did standup at The Gaslight and a match was made in heaven. We also paid a visit to McSorley’s, one of the oldest taverns in New York City where, in the second season, Midge and her new beau Benjamin, whom she met in the Catskills, got a drink. It also happens to be a pub I went to avidly in my 20’s, so memories were galore.
Cafe Reggio also holds memories for me as a youngster going out in Manhattan (okay, from a recent night out, too!) and happens to be the West Village cafe where Abe met his lawyer in season two. We also went to Washington Square Park, where Midge joined a protest in season one. At Albanese Meat and Poultry in the Lower East Side, we walked into the butcher shop where Midge and her mom get Kosher meat (and saw the actual owner!). There we were not allowed to take photos, but it was so cool to see a shop that looks the same as it did in the 1950’s.
The star of the show was Stephanie, who entertained us every step of the way and marched through Manhattan bravely dressed as Midge. Also, the tour was a chance for my mom to see the city. She was introduced to new neighborhoods and parts of Manhattan she had not seen before.
At the end of the tour, we were dropped off in the West Village where we stopped for a lovely lunch and went to a Christmas market in Union Square and then to Dyker Heights to see Christmas lights. The day was perfection. Visit On Location Tours for more info.