Automat, Berenice Abbott

Automat, 977 Eighth Avenue, Ma... Digital ID: 482752. New York Public Library

Automat, 977 Eighth Avenue, Manhattan.

I found this photograph by Bernice Abbott (1898-1991) at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery, whose image database was “developed to provide free and open online access to thousands of images from the original and rare holdings of The Library”. You can even order prints.

In the late 80’s, I ate at the last Automat in Manhattan at 42nd and Third and by then it was tired. I like the more advanced technology of Kaiten-zushi (conveyor belt sushi) anyway. You don’t have to get up to retrieve your food – kinda like dim sum without people.

3 Replies to “Automat, Berenice Abbott”

  1. Yeah, only a “Doris Day” could make an honest soul risk her job
    giving away free food. I guess the expansive, generic anonymity of
    the cube doors made it seem that much easier to pull off. In some
    parallax, these people were their own unsuspecting prequel to
    “Wild Palms”.

  2. I’ve noticed this photo over the years on your site. It was always
    some kind of abstract thing. Recently, I got an old book from the
    library “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole. The story
    finds the main characters going to (60’s) movies of the day. Out
    of curiosity of course, I rent the movies. In one of them, “A Touch
    of Mink”, the “Automat” is a main starting point for the rest of
    the movie. It looked like a pretty cool idea for the time I guess.
    Thanks for posting pictures like this. I passed up years of
    opportunities to snap seemingly common things like this, ignored
    treasures I could have easily hauled away for the price of a
    Brownie Kodak and a cheap roll of film.

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