Diner- Cleveland, Ohio

Here’s a photo from my collection, taken in 1952 by Roy W. Bruce
Chester Avenue and E 36th Street, Cleveland, Ohio.

The caption on the back of the photo reads:
“Northern Ohio Traction and Light Co ex 1500 Series car used as restaurant”.

 photo Image 32.jpg
Another shot showing slightly more context, but of worse quality
 photo Image 36.jpg

Advertisements

The By Pass Diner – Harrisburg, PA

The ByPass Diner opened in Harrisburg in 1939. It was a converted Brill trolley, formerly Hershey Transit No. 8. It was purchased from Brill for $5500 by David L. Cronin and H.P. Collins. Was the diner wing of Brill ever converting old trolleys, or did they simply broker the sale? I’ve never heard of them doing either. The old trolley was replaced in 1953 by a shiny new DeRaffele Diner, placed slightly differently on the lot (1933 Herr St, whereas the trolley was at 1951 Herr- the difference can be seen in the photos). That diner still operates as the American Dream Diner.

 photo 1958375_752484014764317_1918671211_n.jpg

The Camden Diner, Baltimore, MD

I just got in the negative for this photo- the Camden Diner. The diner was located at the corner of Howard and Pratt, by Camden Station. Nothing in the photo still stands, having been redeveloped for the convention center and for Camden Yards. The photo was taken on June 19, 1948. The diner doesn’t seem to have lasted long under this name, I can only find records of it as such from the late 1940s through early 1950s.
 photo Image-Copy.jpg

Trolley Conversions- Maryland and Virginia

Some recent additions to my collection. These photos were taken in 1965. There used to be quite a few trolley conversions in the mid atlantic (and elsewhere), but they just didn’t hold up as well as factory built diners. By the time they came into service as diners, most had served a full lifetime of service on the roads, so the condition was obviously not as good as a factory built diner. It took work, money and some jerry-rigging to change them over from transportation to food service. But they could be picked up and converted on the cheap, so they were a good way to get into the business. It seems most owners traded up to a proper factory built diner, or to a on-site construction once they had earned enough money to do so, so the trolleys didn’t survive very well.

Maryland
Photobucket

Maryland
Photobucket

Virginia
Photobucket

Virginia
Photobucket

Diner Find: Peter’s Carry Out

You would never know to look at it from the street. For years I’ve been going to Potter’s and Weaver’s violin shop, which share a back parking lot with Peter’s. For years I’ve been going to the Tastee just a few blocks away, and I’ve stood under the awning of Peter’s to shield my camera from glare while taking pictures of the former Little Tavern located right across the street. But for whatever reason, I’ve never looked inside.
Photobucket

But sure enough, back in behind the facade of this little shopping strip lies a surprise. A long row of stools and a barrel roof. Whereas all the other buildings in this strip have basements, Peter’s does not. The barrel roof visible on the inside of the diner, is finished for exterior use on the top side, in a space which is now an attic, with the long ago addition of a flat roof, flush with the rest of the businesses on that street. Google satellite photos show a clear seam on either side of Peter’s. All that confirms that Peter’s was not built on site, but was something “other” from the fabric of the streetscape, brought in from somewhere else and set up.

Now let’s take a look at the building itself. Old newspaper articles talk about Maryland being a haven for streetcar-turned-diner conversions in the depression era. Most disappeared as soon as the owners were able to scrape together enough money to buy a proper factory built diner. Take the fomer State Diner in Baltimore, for example, which was a trolley diner until it was replaced with the current secondhand 1930s Silk City in the early 1950s (the Silk City was the original Laurel Diner- now the Tastee). Here’s another interesting Maryland trolley to diner conversion.
With a trolley conversion, like the White Diner or the Crossroads Dinor you would expect to find curved ends. While the original front wall of Peter’s has been punched out to allow more light from the storefront and more seating, it’s clear that the end walls (the one in back as well) are flat, but with curved corners, which makes me think it is far more likely that this was a factory built-purpose built diner.

Photobucket

The ends of the diner have a curve running perpendicular to that of the main barrel, similar to a Silk City roof, not like, say, a ’20s O’Mahony or Tierney. The roof has a distinctive profile- not a smooth curve, but one that has steeper slopes on the sides and a flatter roof. The closest thing I can think of with this particular roofline is a very early, narrow Silk City model. A surviving example would be the West Shore Diner. There is also an abandoned diner of this Silk City model in Montana (formerly Gordy’s) and the Miss Jersey City diner, now long gone.

Here is a picture of the interior of the West Shore for comparison. The Silk City is wider, but the similarities in the barrel roof are notable. Same profile, same curve at the ends. With all the years of modification and renovation at Peter’s, though, the definition of the barrel profile could have been somewhat lost, making real identification difficult. The shape, though, is undeniably that of a diner.
Photobucket

The backbar gives insight into its history, but not its origin. Custom-Bilt National Toddle House, Inc.
Photobucket

The patent numbers, from 1933 and 1934, correspond to the backbar equipment which was found in all Toddle House restaurants at the time. And sure enough, this building had a long stretch operating as a Toddle House.
Photobucket

Toddle House was yet another diner-concept early fast food place, similar in its early days to White Tower, Little Tavern, etc. Like Little Tavern, they used a very small tudor cottage style building. While Little Tavern had the counter oriented perpendicular to the front facade, Toddle House had theirs, diner style, parallel to the front. So for a restaurant which was just stools and a grill, it’s easy to understand why, and how they would take over a barrel roof diner like this. It also means that the first of many renovations, disguising the diner’s true origins, took place 75 years ago, when the diner itself was still relatively new.
Photobucket

And here are some news stories from the late 1950s, mentioning it as a Toddle House.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Peter’s Carry out has a website!
It’s located at 8017 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814

Motorized Lunch Wagons- the missing link

The lunch wagon evolved into the modern day diner as it got bigger and became stationary. At the same time some lunch wagon manufacturers, Buckley in particular it would seem, embraced then new automotive technology, modernizing lunch wagons by making them self propelled. Though the diner manufacturers seem not to have continued in earnest with this evolutionary line, self propelled lunch wagons are all over the place today, out of the backs of box trucks or built up on the frames of pickups.

Dec. 1900
Photobucket

1901
Photobucket

Photobucket

1903
Photobucket

1905
Photobucket

1919.
I’m not sure as to the manufacturer on this, but its lunch wagon lineage is clear. Ornate and looks very heavy.
Photobucket

Crossroads Dinor – Edinboro, PA

I visited the Crossroads Dinor back in March of 2007. The Dinor (a regional spelling of diner) was originally a trolley, built in 1913, decommissioned some time later, and hauled to this site and converted in 1929. Outside, many of its distinctive trolley features still remain, like the curved front and rear and the bumpers. Inside, the trolley section is not used much anymore, the main focus of the restaurant is the spacious, yet homey dining room attached on the back. And its no wonder. Though the trolley is very interesting architecturally, with its curved ceiling, woodwork, and green windows, it’s really very small, especially since they have bumped the kitchen out into it, making an already narrow structure even more narrow.
The diner is located at 101 W Plum St, Edinboro, PA, on the corner of Rt. 6 and Erie.
Photobucket

 photo dinor.jpg