living a well tended life... at any age

lunch hour nyc

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

10 Comments

  1. Sara on January 2, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Love! I have a soft spot for the automat as well … especially the “china” & flat ware. Looks like a nice way to spend the afternoon.

    • sherisilver on January 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      This is just your thing Sara! xo

  2. Alison Marra on January 2, 2013 at 10:03 am

    What great pictures, Sheri – I love all the vintage advertising and signage. Sounds like a really cool exhibit, thanks for the heads-up!

    • sherisilver on January 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      Thanks so much – if you love vintage you will LOVE LOVE this exhibit! 🙂

  3. allison carmen on January 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    love this!

    • sherisilver on January 4, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      Thanks Allison!

  4. Melvin J on January 3, 2013 at 7:36 am

    Great blog and super pictures!!
    I remember the Automat as being sugical-clean and the compartments were never empty for more than 30 seconds.

    • sherisilver on January 3, 2013 at 8:00 am

      Thanks! If you go to the web site there is a whole section on the Automat – how the food was totally fresh, most items prepared to order and no fillers or preservatives. Very impressive; wish I could have been around then!

  5. Marti on January 9, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Whaoa I have to tell my husband about the online exhibit. His fave meal is Lunch not me, let me work when my stomach starts to growl. 🙂
    I do however enjoy looking at the vintage stuff from back in the day
    Thanks for sharing.
    Marti

    • sherisilver on January 9, 2013 at 8:33 pm

      Ha! You’ll love the vintage stuff – he’ll love the lunch stuff! 🙂

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