As museum lovers and people who schedule the day around mealtimes, we here at Boat have spent entirely too much time navigating our way through New York Public Library’s online exhibition “Lunch Hour NYC”.
As the headline quote by George Foster (New York in Slices, 1849) goes, “Everything is done differently in New York from anywhere else—but in eating the difference is more striking than in any other branch of human economy.” And speaking from 7 years of calling New York City my home, I can attest that this quote is true.
Lunch hour in New York City is amazing. It makes the unbearably long workdays somewhat bearable. When you venture out to find your lunch, you join the mass of others doing the same thing with the same flagging energy levels and the same seemingly endless day of work ahead of them. With choices upon choices of lunch to choose from you get the feeling that in this case, New York City has your back. Come 100+ degrees of heat, pouring rain, thick sludgy snow, or perfectly breezy autumn days, between the hours of 12 Noon and 2pm, the city’s workers come out of their dens in search of that perfect bite to eat.
The New York Public Library has tapped into the culture and history of lunch in the Big Apple and has curated an interesting and educational (in the Trivial Pursuit kind of way) little exhibition which they’ve managed to translate to an online version that is equally as pleasurable to trawl through.
From the NYPL website:
Lunch Hour NYC looks back at more than a century of New York lunches, when the city’s early power brokers invented what was yet to be called “power lunch,” local charities established a 3-cent school lunch, and visitors with guidebooks thronged Times Square to eat lunch at the Automat. Drawing on materials from throughout the Library, the exhibition explores the ways in which New York City—work-obsessed, time-obsessed, and in love with ingenious new ways to make money—reinvented lunch in its own image.
Check out the online exhibition here, or visit it in person through Sunday, February 17, 2013 located in the New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building and Gottesman Exhibition Hall. And New Yorkers if you’re reading this, support your amazing public library and other exhibitions and projects like this here.
By Erin Spens
Photo via New York Public Library.