When I was growing up in New York, I could identify every neighborhood by its local diner—I grew up in Bridgeview territory, spent weekends at Vegas with my grandmother, grabbed my requisite morning bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich before school at the Tribeca. I couldn’t fathom a world without them, and never would have expected that as the years passed, they’d start disappearing one by one, turning into Starbucks or parking lots or development sites for overpriced condos. The diner is essential. The diner is dying.
The diner has always been more than food—it’s an indelible part of our American history. Helping record that rich history has been the work of The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan, which already has already acquired and restored priceless artifacts like the Owl Night Lunch Wagon. This week, it announced the acquisition of a new collection of diner ephemera, assembled by author, curator and diner expert Richard J.S. Gutman. According to the Detroit News. The new collection includes drawings, manufacturers’ catalogs, postcards, tables, stools, tableware, and promotional giveaway items from diners across the United States.
For those of us who don’t live near the Ford Museum, we can browse many of its existing collections digitally. Hopefully the new dinercollection will be digitized soon, though it could be great motivation for a diner lover like me to finally book that trip to Detroit.