Welcome to “Eating History,” a new series in which Jaya Saxena of the New-York Historical Society mines the vast archives of the museum and library in search of vintage images and ephemera that offer a look into how New Yorkers used to dine. Follow the museum @NYHistory for more.
New York City restaurants come and go, but complaining about what used to be at a given intersection is a time-honored tradition. New York has a long culinary history—from the oysters that once lined our bays, to immigrants bringing meatballs and lo mein to the tenements, to Cronuts. But the sad truth is that at some point, everyone’s favorite restaurant closes. Sometimes, it’s replaced by a newer, better one. Most of the time it’s replaced by a chain.
This was as true in 1913 as it is now, so we took a look through the New-York Historical Society’s collections at New York’s restaurants of the past, and what those intersections look like now.
Click through the gallery above to see what’s become of New York restaurant facades from the early 20th century. Be sure to sing along with Joni Mitchell—”They paved paradise to put up a parking lot!”—while you do.