lunch hour nyc

January 2nd, 2013
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Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season – it went by way too fast…

Mine was great – a bit of a whirlwind but so much fun, with, of course, lots of great outings. Which, of course, I look forward to sharing with you!

The first is an exhibit currently on display at the magnificent New York Public Library. It’s called “Lunch Hour NYC” and it explores the history of lunch time in New York:

“Of the three meals that mark the American day, lunch is the one that acquired its modern identity here on the streets of New York.”

new york public library, lunch hour nyc

Lunchtime as we know it today coincided with industrialization in the city, and the need to  give employees a fixed time for their midday meal.  The middle section of the show is filled with the most iconic symbols of New York “quick meals” – food trucks, pretzel stands and of course, a take-out delivery bike.

new york public library, lunch hour nyc

new york public library, lunch hour nyc

new york public library, lunch hour nyc

new york public library, lunch hour nyc

There are also sections on school lunches, lunch at home, and the history of the “power lunch”.

My favorite was on the Horn and Hardart Automats. There were only a few left in the city by the time I was a child, and they were pretty seedy and run down. I had no idea how glamorous they were in their prime, and it was so interesting to read about the “behind the scenes” magic of those little slots and doors where your food came from.

new york public library, lunch hour nyc

new york public library, lunch hour nyc

new york public library, lunch hour nyc

new york public library, lunch hour nyc

Of course I also loved all of the vintage menus, cookbooks, lunch boxes and assorted ephemera.

new york public library, lunch hour nyc

new york public library, lunch hour nyc

new york public library, lunch hour nyc

new york public library, lunch hour nyc

new york public library, lunch hour nyc

new york public library, lunch hour nyc

The exhibit is beautifully laid out, and educational without being heavy handed. I learned that peanut butter was once an “elegant treat”, and that Wonder Bread’s uniform slices “eliminated a century’s worth of social distinctions among sandwiches.”

Even if you can’t get to the show (which runs through February 17th), the web site is fun to take a look at – especially the on-line exhibition.

Just don’t be surprised if you are strangely hungry afterward.

new york public library, lunch hour nyc

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