This sweet slice of 1930s food service innovation was photographed by renowned artist and NYC chronicler Berenice Abbott in 1936. The photo’s starring subject? The mighty automat—a giant, fancy vending machine and gleaming testament to instant gratification, seen here doling out America’s go-to baked good. Automat, 977 Eighth Avenue, Manhattan is all about the automated food-serving apparatus itself. The photo's angle emphasizes the splendor of the neatly organized array. The man with his back turned to the camera offered Abbott the perfect opportunity to show a patron interacting with the vending machine without the visual distraction of a face. This is a contraption worth marveling at, the image seems to suggest, and at the time this was shot, automats were indeed in their heyday.
Abbott captured this image in 1936 in one of several NYC locations of the automat restaurant chain Horn & Hardart. Despite their humble prices and waiterless service, the restaurants themselves were rather resplendent, with design details that referenced Parisian bistros. In Automat, 977 Eighth Avenue, Manhattan you can catch the sheen of marble countertops, chrome fixtures, and delicately carved accents. Signs call you to “PIES” in all-caps, Art Deco-esque lettering. Sleek steel and glass cubbies house every edible item in a clean, illuminated grid. Peer a little closer and you’ll see the pies are plated on real china, to be eaten with proper flatware. Coffee may have cost just a nickel a cup, but it flowed from silver dolphin spouts imported from Italy. Beyond that, the cuisine was also reputedly above par. Horn & Hardart’s menu hinged on homestyle comfort food crafted from high-quality ingredients: mac and cheese, baked beans, fresh-squeezed OJ, coffee brewed every 20 minutes (their most popular item), and of course, all kinds of pies. Baked fresh every day, their savory or sweet pies spanned the classics, from pumpkin to pot pie ... Read more on the blog!
+ Limited-edition, exclusive to 20x200
+ Museum quality: archival inks, 100% cotton rag paper unless noted
+ Handcrafted custom-framing is available
Our quoted dimensions are for the size of paper containing the images, not the printed image itself. We do not alter the aspect ratio, nor do we crop or resize the artists’ originals. All of our prints have a minimum border of .5 inches to allow for framing.
Hahnemuhle Fine Art Baryta
8"x10" | edition of 10
11"x14" | edition of 200
16"x20" | edition of 50
20"x24" | edition of 10