Automat, 977 Eighth Avenue, Manhattan. Berenice Abbott. Gelatin silver print, 1936. NYPL, The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs
Talk about timing! Honestly, we didn’t plan it, but our feature on Laura Shapiro in Gourmet Live‘s latest issue, “Fast Food,” coincides with a fabulous exhibit Shapiro helped curate on the history of the quintessential fast food meal, lunch in New York City. It opens tomorrow (Friday, June 22, 2012) at the iconic New York Public Library building (The Stephen A. Schwarzman Library) at Bryant Park.
“Lunch” was a barely used word until New York City rose to prominence as the power center of business, trade, and finance, attracting thousands of workers who no longer had time for a big midday dinner, but instead had an hour or less to fuel up for the afternoon. This insatiable need prompted American ingenuity to come up with solutions for this new hurried meal called lunch: cafeterias, luncheonettes, and the legendary Horn & Hardart Automat.
July 2 is the 100th anniversary of the Automat, and whether you actually experienced the fun of eating in one yourself, or just heard about the chain, the exhibit features a reconstructed wall of real Automat machines. Best of all, it’s a hands-on experience! You can actually open up the little windowed doors and instead of pulling out a slice of pie, you pull out recipes for pumpkin pie or macaroni and cheese. Continue reading