Madison Avenue NYC. There are few streets as iconic as Madison Avenue. Sure, there’s 5th Avenue. And of course 42nd Street beckons to all lovers of Broadway. But for me, there’s just something about Madison Avenue that feels really special. Madison Avenue Shopping is wonderful. And there are many Madison Avenue Restaurants I adore. And the history….sigh. I love to stroll down Madison Avenue, and a few blocks to the west and to the east, and today I’m sharing with you my favorite stops as we stroll down Madison Avenue together.
Madison Avenue NYC: A History
Madison Avenue was built in 1836, and was not part of the original New York street plan. It was named after former President James Madison, who had just died. In the 1920s it became a fashionable district for advertising agencies, and eventually Madison Avenue became synonymous with the Advertisers a la “Mad Men.”
Calling the advertising industry “Madison Avenue” after the street it clustered around is in keeping with the New York habit of calling local industry after north-south streets, as in “Broadway” for the theater business and “Fifth Avenue” for high-end retail.
The stretch of the Madison Avenue I particularly enjoy begins in the Upper East side, at 93rd Street.
Shopping in Upper East Side
Starting at 93rd Street, and continuing all the way down Madison to Central Park South, there is literally block after block of fantastic shopping in Upper East Side! Whether you are searching for serious retail therapy, or just want to window shop, Madison Avenue NYC has it all!
While many major designers have boutiques along Madison Avenue, there’s also unique shopping too! Here’s two of my favorite shops:
- E.A.T. Gifts (1062 Madison Ave): This store is SUPER fun! Lots of quirky, funny and unique items. This is a great spot for picking up sussies for friends or kids who will want a little souvenir from your trip to NYC.
- Shopping in Upper East Side can lave you hungry! Between 83rd and 82nd you will find William Greenberg Desserts. This tiny Jewish Bakery has the MOST delicious hamantaschen . According to The Nosher, “Hamantaschen are the triangular pastries associated with the holiday of Purim, when Jews read from the Book of Esther, and celebrate the triumph of good (Esther) over evil (Haman, who planned to destroy the Jewish people).” These cookies are basically shortbread, shaped like triangles, and filled with anything from Nutella to fruit. I highly recommend the poppy seed variety! All credit goes to Josh Lowenfels, whom I profiled in this post, for the introduction!
Upper East Side Mansions
OK….so while this post is about Madison Avenue, there’s so much to see if you are willing to stray one or two blocks to the east or the west. Including some amazing Upper East Side Mansions!
- The Jewish Museum is located between 93rd and 92nd at 5th Ave., one block west of Madison. This gorgeous museum is worth visiting for its permanent exhibits, as well as its temporary exhibits. And I also love that the museum is primarily housed in one of those amazing Gilded Age homes, located along New York City’s Museum Mile, and designed in the French Gothic chateau-style by architect Charles P.H. Gilbert. The original Upper East Side Mansion was completed in 1908. If you enjoy museums that also have wonderful restaurants, y’all check out the restaurant Russ & Daughters in the basement…it’s FABULOUS!
- The Ralph Lauren Store, at Madison and 72nd is just glorious! Check out this article in Architectural Digest about the history of this Beau Arts Mansion.
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Madison Avenue Restaurants
Walking and site-seeing makes me hungry! How about you???? Here’s some of my favorite Madison Avenue NYC Restaurants!
- A favorite spot for a bite is E.A.T., between 81st and 80th. Yes….it’s connected to the gift shop I mentioned earlier. The food here is fantastic, and I never miss the opportunity to pick up a couple of bags of tiny cookies for snacking later. The black and white shortbread and the chocolate chip are my favorites!!!
- Pescalou (1308 Madison Ave): In the Spring of 2019 I took a group of ladies to NYC for a Needlepoint Retreat. We enjoyed the most delicious lunch at this charming French Bistro! A delightful Madison Avenue Restaurant!
- Sarabeth’s Upper East Side (1295 Madison Avenue) is another lovely place to enjoy a meal!
- Laduree Madison Avenue (864 Madison Avenue) many locations throughout the world…and who does not love a good Macaron?
Other Points of Interest Along Madison Avenue NYC
Worthy of noting, and certainly worthy of experiencing!!!
- The Calder Terrazzo sidewalk. Madison Avenue NYC can also lay claim to Alexander Calder’s only terrazzo work and possibly his only immobile sculpture. On the sidewalk of 1014-1018 Madison Avenue between 78th and 79th streets, black and white tiles are arranged in zigzag and swirl patterns. Installed in 1970, the block was restored in 2002.
- 980 Madison Avenue is an interesting building, housing some important Contemporary Art Galleries, including the Gagosian Gallery.
- Just across the street is the MET Breuer, which houses the Modern and Contemporary art collection and exhibits of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Once you reach 58th street, you are at the southern end of Central Park, where the traffic and people gets much more congested, and less charming.
How long is that “stroll’? From 93rd to 58th is 2 miles….not a crazy long distance, especially with so many wonderful distractions along the way!
Let me know what you discover along Madison Avenue!