Are you ready to have an aha moment? “Mad Men” has more sin and angst than your average pop culture sensation, but the show’s characters hardly meet the definition of insanity. This “mad” doesn’t refer to a bunch of pissed off guys in natty retro attire, either.
“Mad men” is a historical term short for “Madison Avenue” men, coined by the advertising industry itself, in typically self-promotional fashion. Madison Avenue, of course, has been synonymous with the advertising industry since the 1920s. On closer examination, however, the story gets more interesting.
Why is it Madison Avenue, not street, boulevard, or road? When Manhattan was planned out in 1811, streets (like Madison Avenue) running North-South were designated as avenues. The street wasn’t part of the original plan, but was inserted between Park Avenue (formerly Fourth) and Fifth Avenue in 1836.
We know for a fact that the avenue in question was not named for “the Madison,” a dance craze from the 1950s which Don Draper would have scoffed at. The fourth president of the United States, James Madison, has innumerable roads, cities and entertainment complexes named for him. One of the more famous Madison namesakes is Madison Square Garden, a landmark of raucous recitals and pugilism. There’s a catch; the “Garden” was relocated off of Madison Avenue long ago, but kept the name. “Mad Men” would certainly appreciate the advertising savvy of that decision.
Thanks for the lowdown on Madmen. I’d like to add the connection to Mad Magazine. Larry Siegel and Wally Wood sent up Madison Ave in the 1950’s. See The Madison Avenue Primer: issue #55. This is the groundwork for the show. Just had to share.
More inclined to think the show was developed from a book popular in the 60s The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit. Great book and I recognised the similarities in the first season
I wonder if ‘Mad Men’ has anything to do with ‘Mr Men’. Joanne, you know those books that I’m talking about!!!!!
Don Draper is the man I adore. New season should be interesting.
nah i dont reckon. they come from ’sunshine land’ and ’snowtown’ etc.
I hate to correct you (maybe I don’t really;-) but Madison Square Garden moved off Madison Avenue long, long before 1968.
That date is the birth of the extant MSG, actually the fourth incarnation, and currently on 7th Avenue and a neighbor of Macy*s. The MSG prior to it was located in Hells’ Kitchen.
My mother who was born on 49th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues recalls vividly the elephants being paraded from the Lincoln Tunnel to the arena when the Ringling Bros. circus was in town. This was in the 1920s when the actor George Raft still lived there. I understand my greatgrandfather knew him!
Why is it Madison Avenue, not street, boulevard, or road….
Mr Madison so great… Avenue souds good
More inclined to think the show was developed from a book popular in the 60s The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit. Great book and I recognized the similarities in the first season. nah i dont reckon.
nah i dont reckon.That date is the birth of the extant MSG, actually the fourth incarnation, and currently on 7th Avenue and a neighbor of Macy*s. The MSG prior to it was located in Hells’ Kitchen.
My mother who was born on 49th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues recalls vividly the elephants being paraded from the Lincoln Tunnel to the arena when the Ringling Bros. circus was in town. This was in the 1920s when the actor George Raft still lived there. I understand my greatgrandfather knew him
I love it when good shows like this get renewed, a lot of tv shows these days die out before they even get started.
That’s seriously interesting ! Thank you.
I am very confused on what you are trying to convey in the last paragraph. First, you say it was not named after the dance,and then you state that many streets were named after the President, and then you go on to talk about Madison Square Garden. So was it named after the President or not?
Your next sentence goes on to talk about the MSG and then right back into mad men?????
I enjoy these articles very much but find them to be written a little haphazardly. I am more confused after I read the article.
@Elsie: You took the words right out of my mouth! This article didn’t seem to answer the question of where the “Madison” in “Madison Avenue” came from! At best, it only lightly implies an answer, which leaves the reader confused and unsure!
I believe the topic is: The origin of the title of the tv show, “Mad Men”. Not why the Mad Men’s suits made out of grey flannel or plot similarities to said book.
The common theme between the tv show MadMen and the movie the grey flannel is about a man who still lives in the warzone after coming back in one piece. They seem to manage to go on their lives by establishing the families, however things continue into the flashy and showy advertisment game and Doraper’s compulsive love affairs with brunetts. It just makes me wonder that no matter where or how quickly you move, there would always be a warzone with repite moments or respite takes over and the truce takes over in life. It would be very interesting to see where Draper would go in the next MadMen show.
James Madison, a great politician? I do not know simply I have not studied the American history too well. But writing the Constitution is most essential when a nation is emerging or shambling. The politics in everyday business, private or public, that is hectic. I like a simple life.
[...] is — a walk down Madison Ave — Though we have never watched it. — It’s our “POP CULTURE” of “MARKETING” – “MADNESS” and “PROPAGANDA” — Give [...]
The warzone after coming back in one piece. They seem to manage to go on their lives by establishing the families, however things continue into the flashy and showy advertisment game and Doraper’s compulsive love affairs with brunetts. It just makes me wonder that no matter where or how quickly you move, there would always be a warzone with repite moments or respite takes over and the truce takes over in life.
Separated at birth: Dylan McDermott and Jon Hamm
Valuable info. Lucky me I found your site by accident, I bookmarked it.
It is irrelavent to MadMen, but I am reading through the comments and remember the movie Splash. Daryl Hanna was named after the Madison Avenue. She was pretty back then and Tom Hanks was funny back then but I do not like either today.
Jhon Hamm looks older for his age, but he plays Dan Draper really good.
A womanizer hesitates to get married on papar in real life unless he gets ready for having a baby. One thing that worries one about having a baby is that what if a child comes out to be a totally moron or diabolic. That would be quite devastating.
Madison Square Garden was never located on Madison Avenue. It was located downtown, on Madison Square. It’s relocated at least twice since then.
[...] some pearl in a hidden shell. — With some things better left alone out of sight from the self-righteous marketing vulture — and so on just as well. –>>Rupert [...]
Stop the presses! The “Mad” in “Mad Men,” a show about ad execs on Madison Avenue, stands for Madison Avenue. Gee whiz! Thanks, Captain Obvious.
relocated off of Madison Avenue
@Elsie: I agree with all of you, this entire article is confusing! They answer a question (what does the “Mad” in “Mad Men” come from?) with a question (what does the “Madison” in “Madison Avenue” come from?), which they never really answer. I mean, it doesn’t hurt to know that the fourth president has a bunch of stuff named after him, but they should really come right out and say that this street is named after him. Hinting that James Madison might be the cause of this whole story just isn’t enough for me. All I’m saying is that I would expect more from a dictionary website.
P.S. What’s with that last sentence? The origin of the A in A team is even less interesting than I imagined. It stands for Alpha.
P.P.S. I expect more from this website because it defines things, and their answer is very undefined.
Oh yeah, and what’s your problem, Hoopermazing? Captain Obvious isn’t always right. If you read this article without it telling you that the Madison in Madison Avenue comes from James Madison, wouldn’t you still want to know?
… except that the phrase Mad Men was never used on Madison Avenue … it was mad(e) up and presented as such by the men in Hollywood … Holly holy