By Elizabeth Mahon
Everyone loves Mrs. Maisel, that valentine to both the city of New York and the changing era of the 1950s. Since the show premiered on Amazon in 2017, the show has won numerous awards and inspired an exhibition at the Paley Center for Media in 2019, and a special afternoon tea at the Plaza Hotel. Whether you love or loathe Midge Maisel, and trust me, everyone has an opinion, the show gives the audience a glimpse at not only 1950s New York but the world of stand-up comedy when there were very few women making a career in what has long been a male-dominated field.
On Location Tours has a fantastic Marvelous Mrs. Maisel tour featuring a classic 1957 Chevy car, which was used in the series and in Indiana Jones. The classic car adds a more authentic feel than the normal buses and makes it easier to get around the streets of Greenwich Village. Because of COVID, they require all guests to be fully vaccinated and wear a facemask for the entire duration of the tour. The car tour costs $150 per person and can fit up to three passengers in the back but one or two individuals can take it as well -- they just need to pay for a three-person minimum! The tour guides dress in 1950s inspired garb, since the tour offers an opportunity to learn about how modern-day New York City was disguised to make it appear as the 1950s.
The tour starts uptown at 34th Street at the former B. Altman building, a luxury department store that closed in 1989 (I bought my prom dress there), now used by the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. Fans of the series remember that Midge started out working on the first floor before being demoted downstairs to the switchboard. Other highlights of the tour include the site of the Gaslight Cafe in the West Village, Cafe Reggio, where the first cappuccino in the United States was served and has a ceiling fan from the movie Casablanca, the Music Inn (where Midge discovered that Joel had been using Bob Newhart’s routines at the Gaslight), the City Spoon Diner, McSorley’s Ale House, the National Arts Club, and Lutz’s Butcher where Midge famously yelled that they booked the rabbi in the pilot episode. For those who have a sweet tooth, a mini black and white cookie is included in the tour.
It was fantastic to be able to relive episodes of the show that I had forgotten and made me eager to go back home to watch the series from the beginning now that I’ve taken the tour. I’m a native New Yorker and I learned things on this tour that even I didn’t know.
My tour guide, Emily, was not only incredibly knowledgeable about the show but she’s also booked a small role on the final season of Mrs. Maisel. She happily indulged me as I shared my thoughts about Season Four of the show. We even joked about how easy it is to get lost in the Village because the streets are so confusing! If she hadn’t told me that she had just started with the company in February of this year, I would never have known it. The Mrs. Maisel's Marvelous Tour of NYC is the only tour she works on currently. I asked her what she liked about working for On Location Tours. “The best part about working with On Location Tours is the community. Not only community between guides, but the community we get to welcome our guests into when they take a tour. The guides and the guests share an ephemeral and unique experience and then leave the tour refreshed and excited about the city!”
This tour is not just for those viewers who love the show but also anyone interested in the history of New York City, and a behind the scenes look and just how a show like Mrs. Maisel so successfully turns back the clock from 2022 New York to the 1950s. This is the second tour that I’ve taken with On Location Tours, and I can’t recommend them enough.
Elizabeth Kerri Mahon is a native New Yorker and unabashed history geek. She is the author of Pretty Evil New York: True Stories of Mobster Molls, Violent Vixens, and Murderous Matriarchs and Scandalous Women: The Lives and Loves of History's Most Notorious Women. A pop-culture diva, Elizabeth has written for the popular quiz site Reward TV.com. She is also a professional actress who has played virgins and vixens in everything from Shaw to Shakespeare.