by Kevin Walsh

Here’s a photo from the NYC Municipal Archives of the Market Diner on the NW corner of 9th Avenue and West 33rd Street. At the time, the diner occupied the bottom floor of a walkup brick building. The shadow in the foreground is from the 9th Avenue El, which clattered over the avenue until later in the same year the photo was taken, 1940. Note that on the side of the building is a depiction of a railroad-car-style diner. As it turned out that was a foreshadowing of what was to come.

Later in the decade the building was demolished. The owners of the diner must have also owned the building because in its place, a new stainless steel diner building was constructed by the Paramount Modular Concepts of Oakland, NJ. Paramount was the first manufacturer to introduce an all-stainless-steel exterior. Paramount diners featured a distinctive curved roofline, and rounded glass block corners. Many of its earlier diners, such as the  White Manna  in Hackensack, New Jersey, are adorned with a “wainscoting” of beveled vertical porcelain panels. 

While this new building was named the Market Diner in its early years (“Market” seems to be a popular diner name; another Market, uptown on 11th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen, was built in 1964 and demolished in 2015) it was renamed the Cheyenne.

When I worked in the area in the early 2000s, I frequented the Cheyenne often; it was popular with cab drivers and postal workers at the James Farley post office across the street, which is now being transformed into a fancy-dan waiting room for Penn Station. When the word came that the owner was closing it, I assembled some friends and had a last meal in the spring of 2008.  

Diners all over town are under siege from developers, who see once-story buildings as wastes of real estate, and desire high rise skyscrapers built in their place.

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1 comment

ronald s December 29, 2018 - 12:15 pm

This history shows the merging of the loss of industry in NYC, the loss of working class jobs, gentrification, rising value of real estate, changing of food tastes and aging of the population. Through most of my life, the fringes of Manhattan had diners, garages, warehouses, gas stations etc. and were populated with the working class. Those days are gone—these changes are not reversible.
On a related note, I read recently that on 145th street, 3 of 4 local gas stations shut down and sold to developers. Same idea—large square footage and a 1 story building….
On a second related note, Queens is losing diners at an accelerating rate.


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