Friday, February 17, 2017

Wallet Card with remnants of NYC's flagship Automat

The Horn and Hardart Automat chain was a revolution in quick service dining. A precursor to fast food restaurants like McDonald's and Burger King, you would stick your coins in a slot next to a glass container with the food you wanted, and the container would open to give you your food. Originally started in Philadelphia, the company opened their flagship New York store in Times Square in 1912. The building was intricately decorated, with the centerpiece being an ornate floral design on the ceiling of the first floor.

By the 1960s and 1970s the Automats were going out of business, with many of the locations including this one becoming Burger Kings. Now it is a shop called "Grand Slam" selling knickknacks to tourists. However, remnants of the ceiling sculpture can still clearly be seen above the "Make America Great Again" T-shirts.

When Burger King owned the former Automat location in the 1970s, they put shingles on the outside to make them look like every other Burger King in the country, no matter how incongrous they looked on the side of a large city building. Those shingles can still be seen poking out from behind the large billboard that now covers the store's exterior.

1 comment:

  1. My mom told me stories of her stepdad taking her to the Automat in the late 1950s. Probably the same one you are at in these photos. Pretty cool!