Guest post by ForgottenFan David Silver
While walking down 7th Avenue about a month ago, I happened to look up at at the parking structure at the corner of 37th and 7th. This structure was supposed to be used for all the people who enjoyed throwing their money away at the nearby OTB. Since the OTB is now a thing of the past, it is now used for regular parking. On the roof, the spots are reserved for all the monthly cars who like to keep their Mercedes and BMW’s away from the riffraff. It is up here, where we see an ever interesting ad for a basically extinct thing of the past: the Automat.
The Automat was first brought to the US in 1902 by Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart, who opened up their first restaurant in Philadelphia. New York City got their first Automat 10 years later in 1912. Sadly, the Automat has been but a distant memory for the better part of 40 years, with the last Horn & Hardart closing in 1991. There was a brief revival on St. Marks Place, but that only existed for a couple of years.
The ad is on the back wall of the parking garage roof, and can be easily viewed from the corner of 37th and 7th. However, why stop there, when you can see it eye to eye? On this day, I walked into the garage and asked the lead parking attendant if I could go to the roof. While skeptical at first, he soon understood why I wanted to go there, and was very nice about letting me up. Upon my arrival on the 6th floor, I was greeted by two more attendants. These men, after a short conversation, went to great lengths to accommodate me. The layout of the roof is as such; cars parked on the roof itself, with a 2nd level of elevated spots placed above the bottom layer of cars. This second layer was blocking a perfect view of the ad. With a quick inquiry, the two men stole away when business became slow, and proceeded to move four different cars and lower 2 different elevated parking spots, so as to clear up my shot. For that, I would like to thank the men of the (Kinney?) parking garage on 37th Street and 7th Avenue. For a day, I could just imagine entering the restaurant on the corner of 37th and Broadway, popping in a few nickels, and having a good meal. A guy can dream, can’t he?