Hunter Gatherer has a great post about the classic 1948 film noir, Naked City, and the subsequent TV series which ran between 1958-1963, complete with a few choice clips.
Most so-called New York TV series were shot in studios. Friends, for example, was filmed in LA. In most episodes the only genuine NY image is of the front door in the West Village, and even this spells fake as an implausibly expensive location for its fictional occupants. Naked City is special because, befitting its title, it was filmed in large part, on location in New York and strips Manhattan bare to reveal an architecture that was far more coherent than today’s mixture of glass and steel modernism and pre-war masonry gothic.
This great opening shot from the movie shows how much bigger the downtown skyscraper cluster was relative to midtown, before the corporate center of gravity shifted. The financial district is dominated by the hypodermic needle like tower of what is now a focus of news half a century later, as the HQ of AIG with its injections of tax payer bail-out cash, while midtown looks relatively spartan revealing the since hidden laminated shards of the side facade of the Rockefeller Center.