More Mad Men geography! I’ve now showcased the home addresses of two of the show’s main characters, Don Draper and Joan Holloway. Now it’s the turn of Pete Campbell–in many ways the ultimate villain of the show–and his long-suffering wife Trudy. This is the location of the apartment they move into in the season 1 episode “New Amsterdam,” in which Pete and Trudy tour the new spacious digs and Pete worries whether he can afford it or not. An exact address is not given but the show discloses the cross streets, Park Avenue and East 83rd Street.
I’m not sure whether this building was here in 1960; it looks like it could have been but I just can’t tell. In the episode in question it’s made clear that the Campbells’ building was “post-war,” constructed after 1945, and this one appears consistent with that period. Middle-class couples like the Campbells benefited from the huge economic boom that swept America in the years after the war and they were beginning to move to addresses like these. Prosperity was easy in the boom time after the war, but it was fostered mainly by the huge influx of federal money into every sector of the economy–home ownership, factories, universities, infrastructure, and trade. The New York depicted in the early seasons of Mad Men is a society on the verge of change. The Nixon-Kennedy race of 1960, which is referenced in this episode (later in the show Betty Draper goes to stuff envelopes for the Kennedy campaign), was about how best to preserve and leverage the sort of postwar prosperity that the Campbells epitomized.
People who have never been there are surprised how small, geographically speaking, New York is. Another Mad Men location, the Park Avenue apartment where Don and Megan Draper move in 1965, is less than half a mile down the street from the Campbells’ old pad.