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Top ten NYC Mad Men moments that still ring true today

Will Gleason
Written by
Will Gleason

Even though Matthew Weiner’s critically acclaimed series is set in the 1960s, there are plenty of moments in the New York-set show that are still true about the city today. From the restaurants the characters frequent (Minetta Tavern, La Grenouille) to the landmarks that play a role in the show (Penn Station, The Empire State Building) you would almost think the AMC drama actually shot in New York.

To celebrate the final seven-episode run of the iconic show—which starts this Sunday—we decided to take a look back at some the of the top moments that, for better or for worse, are still true about living in NYC today. 

1. The East Village is still great for vegetarian food
Harry and Paul meet at the East Village vegetarian eatery Ratner’s to discuss the latter’s spec script for an episode of Star Trek in Season Five of the show. Ratner’s closed in 2004, but the neighborhood is still a great destination for vegetarian food with restaurant’s like Angelika Kitchen and Caravan of Dreams.

2. Sardi’s is still the place to be on opening night
In Season Two, Betty and Don Draper have a disastrous dinner with the Bobbie and Jimmy Barrett to celebrate the launch of a brand-new TV pilot for Utz Potato Chips (which Jimmy sponsors.) Halfway through the dinner, Don gets a little, um, handsy with Bobbie in a memorable scene. The Times Square restaurant is still the setting for many Broadway and television celebrations today.

3. It still sucks to sit through bad downtown performance art
In the sixth episode of the series, Don accompanies his mistress Midge and her bohemian friends to an avant-garde performance in the West Village. Unfortunately, he was not impressed by the free-thinking show.

4. Jackson Heights is still underrated (and rocks)
When Ken Cosgrove and his wife stop by the Campbells for dinner in Season Five, Ken boasts of their under-the-radar digs in Forest Hills. “We’re in Jackson Heights, Queens,” he says. “It’s very down to earth.” If you’ve been to any of the new restaurants or bars in Jackson Heights recently, you know there’s still reason to brag about living in the chill ‘hood. Get it, Cosgrove.

5. Moving to a new neighborhood can be scary
Peggy Olson is so on edge after moving to a new Upper West Side apartment that an unexplained noise causes her to accidentally harpoon her hipster boyfriend Abe. As anyone who has moved to a new borough or less-familiar part of NYC can attest, the adjustment period can often be somewhat difficult.

6. Loft parties: still intense
When Peggy accompanies her lesbian friend Joyce to a loft party she has a night full of pretentious debate with weed-smoking, bohemian artists. Pretty soon, the party get's broken up by the cops. Surprisingly, this did not take place in present-day Bushwick.

7. Taking LSD and getting in a cab will always be a bad idea
Dropping acid is one thing, but taking LSD and traveling to a second location can break up a marriage. (Not to mention, it doesn’t really make those hallucinations any better.) There’s a reason Roger writes his address on a piece of paper and puts it in his pocket, before heading out. It’s never a good idea to take hard drugs, then head out in the city, kids.

8. The Second Avenue Subway has YET to be constructed
"When they finish the Second Avenue subway, this apartment will quadruple in value," Peggy's realtor tells her when she worried the apartment she's considering buying was too far east. To be fair, this probably will be the case. Once the oft-delayed line finally opens sometime in the 22nd century.

9. Tearing down Penn Station still seems like a really dumb idea
Sterling Cooper loses a chance to represent Madison Square Garden in the third season when copywriter Paul Kinsey tells the powers behind the future arena that it would be a bad idea to tear down the gorgeous train station. As anyone who has commuted through the subterranean horror pit since then can attest, he had a point.

10. Midtown East is the best place for some male bonding
In the first season, Peggy goes out with her male co-workers to celebrate her winning copy for Belle Jolie at the still-in-business P.J. Clarke’s. If you’re looking for a place to hang with the boys today, you still can’t go wrong with the bars up and down Third Avenue in Midtown East and Murray Hill.

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