How ‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ brought NYC back to the 1950s


Recreating the New York City of the late 1950s for Emmy-winning “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is a process of elimination, imagination and transformation. It takes a lot to make pesky Soul Cycle signs vanish and turn a library into a bustling department store.

In Season 1, the show alternated between the Upper West Side and the gritty comedy club world of Greenwich Village — including several spots that were once part of the city but are now defunct. In Season 2, which premieres Wednesday on Amazon Prime, those locations are still prominent, with the scope expanding to include Paris, France, the Catskills and the Rockaways.

In Season 1, Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) got a job working at the perfume counter at B. Altman’s, the real-life department store that closed in 1990, and she becomes a switchboard operator at the store in Season 2. For a Christmas scene, complete with holiday windows, production designer Bill Bill Groom and his design team went to the location of the original B. Altman’s — now the graduate center library of the City University of New York.

“We chose the side of the building, on East 34th Street,” he said. “There are no windows. We built them out, maybe 8 feet deep.” Groom worked with visual merchandisers Spaeth Designs, in Woodside, Queens, known for transforming department- store windows into scenes of holiday magic.