Diners Through the Decades: 1940s

Photo by Michael Kleen

The 1940s saw the end of the Great Depression but the beginning of America’s involvement in World War 2. Diners continued to roll off assembly lines, and after the war ended, expanded from industrial centers of the northeast to suburbs and smaller towns as well. They retained their train car appearance and were almost entirely made from steel, with Art Deco architectural elements.

Photo by Michael Kleen

The Modern Diner at 364 East Avenue in Pawtucket, Rhode Island is a 1940 Sterling Streamliner built by the John B Judkins Company. It was the first diner to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is one of two Sterling Streamliners still in operation. I love this unique Art Deco design.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Miss Florence Diner, at 99 Main Street in Florence, Massachusetts, was manufactured by the Worcester Lunch Car Company in 1941 and originally owned by Maurice and Pauline Alexander. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. The interior is wood.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Tony’s Freehold Grill, at 59 E. Main Street in Freehold, New Jersey, is a 1947 O’Mahony that has sat at the same location since it opened. You can see how after WW2 diners began to exhibit stainless steel exteriors and took on the “classic” diner look. Many of these were also built on-site, as opposed to being assembled at the factory and transported to their location.

Photo by Michael Kleen

The 29 Diner, at 10536 Fairfax Blvd in Fairfax, Virginia, is a 1947 Mountain View, and its original owners were D.T. “Bill” and Elvira “Curly” Glascock. It was known as the Tastee 29 Diner in 1992 when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The exterior has undergone renovation over the years, including adding an expanded kitchen and block glass around the front.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Highland Park Diner at 960 S Clinton Avenue in Rochester, New York, is a rare 1948 Orleans model. The short-lived Orleans Manufacturing Company of Albion, New York only built three diners between 1947 and 1948. The other two are the Cadillac Diner of Westwood, NJ and the Arlington Diner of Haverhill, MA.

Author: Michael Kleen

Michael Kleen is an author, raconteur, and occasional traveler. He has a M.A. in History and M.S. in Education. He enjoys studying military history, folklore, and philosophy.

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