Tuesday, 24 September 2013


Advertising executives on Madison Avenue in New York City have been turned into caricatures of political incorrectness in the popular TV series Mad Men, which follows the adventures of ad executives working in New York in the 1960s. For most of the 20th century, most of the mass advertising campaigns on TV, and in magazines, newspapers and other sources, originated on Madison Avenue. The very words “Madison Avenue” still bring to mind ad campaigns aimed at influencing the buying habits of Americans and the world beyond, but the influence of those mega ad firms has been declining for years. Some large advertising firms have moved, and the titans of new media, Google, Facebook, etc., are far removed from Madison Avenue.

Got a few thousand bucks to drop on a business suit, party dress, or designer handbag? You’ll find all that and more on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California. It’s where Hollywood stars shop, and where the millions who idolize Hollywood stars go to watch the stars shop. Tourists are often surprised to find that the heart of Rodeo Drive is only three blocks long, but packed into that real estate and on surrounding streets are some of the biggest names in high-dollar fashion retail: Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Yves Saint-Laurent, Jimmy Choo and more. Of course, many visitors have no intention of dropping $2,000 on a designer handbag, but come for the stargazing opportunities.
Hollywood Boulevard boasts what may be the most famous sidewalks in the world. The Hollywood Walk of Fame features almost 2,500 stars inset into the pavement along a 1.3-mile stretch of the road (some stars are on a couple of adjacent streets). The first eight stars were officially installed in 1960, with Burt Lancaster being the name most recognizable to the current generation. Stars continue to be added, and visitors continue to flock to the walk in staggering numbers — according to one 2003 report, the Hollywood Walk of Fame draws some 10 million annual visitors.
Broadway is the only street on this list that is identifiable with just one word. Countless acting careers have been launched in the theaters on this New York street, and many people have struck it rich merely singing about it — almost two dozen recording artists have covered The Drifters’ 1963 hit On Broadway, most notably George Benson, who took home a Grammy Award for his version of the song. The street itself is the oldest north-south route through Manhattan, tracing its origins to the Native Americans who “sold” the island to the Dutch. Broadway’s history gives it the nod on this list over several other famous New York City streets whose names are familiar to most Americans, notably Park Avenue and Fifth Avenue.

The party never stops on Bourbon Street — even as Hurricane Katrina bore down on New Orleans in 2005, reporters on the scene found hard-core partiers, beer in hand, waiting until the last minute to evacuate. Lined with buildings that showcase the city’s French and Spanish heritage, Bourbon Street’s biggest bash, the annual celebration of Mardi Gras, draws hundreds of thousands of people to the French Quarter, but there are many other festivals year-round that keep the bars, restaurants, strip clubs and other establishments busy.

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