|Renoir still life|
|Although the last automat closed in 1991, the Smithsonian in Washington DC has a 35-foot section of one on display. In the early 1930s, New York boasted 41 automats.|
“The Automat was one of the wonders of New York. When Joe Horn and Frank Hardart opened their magnificent flagship on July 2, 1912—a two-story facade of stained glass, marble floors, and ornate carved ceilings, right in the middle of Times Square—the city was instantly captivated. Hungry? Drop a nickel in a slot, open the door to your chosen compartment, and pull your dish right out — a modern miracle! Sandwiches, hot dishes, and desserts were all freshly made, and the coffee was said to be the best in New York. By the 1940s there were Automat restaurants all over the city. Children and tourists adored them, office workers depended on them, retirees gathered in them, and New Yorkers with nothing to spend on lunch stirred free ketchup into hot water and called it soup.”At the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company’s main office on Madison Avenue, “men and women ate in separate lunchrooms, and everyone had an assigned seat so that waitresses could quickly deliver the right meal to each person. The clerks were allowed 35 minutes for lunch, and the meal was free.” Sounds very Silicon Valley!
|One of the 45,000 menus in the collection. Quite the rate of inflation!|