Posts Tagged ‘Automat Fifth Avenue’

The Automat is gone—but a faded Automat ad still remains in the Garment District

July 25, 2022

The last Horn & Hardart Automat in New York City, at 200 East 42nd Street, shut down in 1991—its stainless steel vending machines that dispensed everything from hot coffee to meatloaf to pie unceremoniously carted away.

That was 31 years ago. But the ghosts of the 40 to 50 Automats that once fed Gotham still haunt the imaginations of New Yorkers old enough to remember them—as well as those of us who wish we could hop into a time machine and experience these very democratic (and all architecturally different) food establishments.

Automat at 1089 Sixth Avenue, 1939

(Why democratic? Take it from a 1933 rhyme printed in the New York Sun that went like this: said the technocrat/to the plutocrat/to the autocrat/and the Democrat/let’s all go eat at the Automat!)

Macy’s own Automat at 425 Seventh Avenue, 1929

So it’s wonderful to come across a faded ad for a Broadway Automat on the side of a building on West 38th Street, within the borders of the Herald Square shopping district as well as the old Garment District.

This second image of the faded ad (above) comes from Frank Mastropolo, the author of Ghost Signs 2: Clues to Uptown New York’s Past, which hits Amazon and bookstores today. Mastropolo got access to the roof of the building next door for this amazing shot, which fills in the blanks as to where this Automat was located.

The Automat at 401 Fifth Avenue, 1950s

The ad is in surprisingly good shape, considering it’s been exposed to the elements for four or five decades, at least. Let’s hope it sticks around!

[Second, third, and fifth images: NYPL Digital Collections; fourth image: Frank Mastropolo, Ghost Signs 2: Clues to Uptown New York’s Past]