Vintage Photos of Diners Through the Years

This diner from 1935 specialized in serving Quaker Oats dishes. Quaker introduced their famous Quick Oats all the way back in 1922.

From Delish: Diners are a staple in the United States that maintain a vintage feel no matter how updated they may appear to be. It’s the perfect spot to grab a greasy burger, a basket of hot fries, or a plate of eggs and pancakes no matter what time of day. Many people grew up going to diners for a quick meal, and while they aren’t quite as popular now as they once were, they likely won’t be disappearing anytime soon. In fact, diners have been an American favorite since 1924, when they evolved from rolling restaurants and dining cars into what we know them as now: a good ole’ diner.

These eateries really hit their heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, when they became the go-to “cool” hangout spot for teenagers and adults alike. Diners were known as places where you could get delicious and (more importantly) inexpensive food, which gave them a more laid-back feel that customers appreciated and loved. Although they’ve changed a bit through the years, the diner look you’re used to seeing still feels plucked from the past. Here’s a look at photos of vintage diners that may just inspire you to order from your own favorite spot.

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‘Bitten With The Concrete Bug’: Sculpture Gardens Showcase Wisconsin’s Outsider Artists

Fred Smith, Wisconsin Concrete Park (site view, Hans Everson’s Kerosene Wagon, Phillips, WI). Photo: Robert Amft, c. 1960. Courtesy of Robert Amft Archive, Friends of Fred Smith, Inc.

“It’s like walking into a gem.”

From Wisconsin Public Radio: That’s how Cortney Anderson Kramer described the texture of the space at Wisconsin’s Dickeyville Grotto.

“When you go there, it’s built up at a Catholic church. It is a monument to patriotism as well as Catholicism. And it is a sort of architectural grotto shrine, that is encrusted with everything from geodes and rocks, to what is recorded to be a Ford gear shift knob,” Anderson Kramer told WPR’s “Central Time” host Rob Ferrett.

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Do You Want to Buy a Diner?

From GoLocalProv: One of Providence’s most storied diners is now up for sale.

The Elmwood Diner can be yours.

According to the listing, “Great opportunity to start a business, and own a piece of history! This one-of-a-kind property is ready for its new owner. It is fully equipped, including a POS system. There is a billboard on the property you could rent for income, or advertise your own business for free!! Schedule your appointment today.”

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Mickey’s and Al’s: What’s happening with the Twin Cities’ two most iconic diners?

No matter what shift you work, or whether you’re alone on a holiday, there would be a short order cook and a mug of coffee waiting behind the counter at Mickey’s. That all changed with the pandemic. MinnPost photo by Bill Lindeke

From MinnPost: Mickey’s Diner and Al’s Breakfast are St. Paul and Minneapolis’ most iconic grease nooks, respectively, and for good reason. In both cases, while you’re perched on a stool, brushing elbows with your neighbor, the intimate atmosphere adds flavor to your meal that transcends any spice rack.

But as we have all learned this year, the snug ambiance that makes these joints timeless means they’re most vulnerable to a plague. You can be sure that tiny diners will be the last businesses to open back up after a pandemic.

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Vintage sign museum in Tucson electrifies Arizona’s neon past

Ignite Sign Art Museum in Tucson uses discarded signs and advertisements to pay homage to the state’s past.

From AZCentral: There are many ways to illuminate a city’s history. Jude and Monica Cook’s version is resplendent.

The couple’s creation, Ignite Sign Art Museum, is a collection of Tucson’s discarded signage. Relighted, these advertisements electrify the city’s past.

“Visitors thank us for what we’re doing in preserving and restoring Tucson’s historic signs; it’s not something we expected,” Monica says. This couple from Iowa has come to be de facto keepers of the Old Pueblo’s commercial history and has rescued roadside signs from other parts of Arizona, including Phoenix.

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The Long Road From ‘Ramshackle Cabins’ to Modern Motels

Holiday Inn started in 1952, when Kemmons Wilson built a motel outside Memphis, naming it after a Bing Crosby movie. John Margolies/Library of Congress

From Barron’s: As Americans get back on the road postpandemic, they’ll find plenty of comfortable, affordable, brand-name places to stay the night after a long drive.

Off I-80 in Rock Springs, Wyo., road-trippers have their choice of Comfort Inn, Hampton Inn, or any of 16 other hotels or motels. Off I-270 in Terre Haute, Ind., there are 22 welcoming lodges, including Quality Inn and SpringHill Suites. Off I-295 in Mt. Laurel, N.J., Econo Lodge and Hyatt Place are among 28 choices to lay down your head for the night.

It wasn’t always like that. Before World War II, weary travelers looking for a night’s rest were likely to be greeted by a “collection of ramshackle cabins close to the highway’s roar” called a motel, as Barron’s wrote in 1953.

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Eat Rite diner building gets new lease on restaurant life

The former Eat-Rite building will be home to a new restaurant later this spring on Chouteau in St. Louis.

From Fox2 Now: ST. LOUIS– An iconic, beloved building on the St. Louis restaurant scene will be home to a new generation of slingers as part of a new diner concept coming later this spring.

Tim Eagan, a local chef who has spent the last 12 years working for local hotels and as a private in-home chef during the pandemic, has signed a lease to take over the former Eat-Rite diner building at 622 Chouteau.

He shared the news in a social media post that has already garnered a lot of reaction.

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