A Staple of American Culture
In movies, sitcoms and art, the American diner has offered a backdrop to the hustle and bustle of life. They’re a place to find an inexpensive warm meal, meet with friends or simply pause for a brief respite over a cup of coffee and a slice of pie. Diners are quintessentially American.
Origin of the Classic American Diner
Born in 1872, the Diner had more in common with what we today call a food truck than the current model of a diner in Denver. Walter Scott’s horse-drawn wagon was the first place in which coffee and sandwiches were sold to the public.
The food vending business turned out to be a lucrative one, leading others to open up their own lunch wagons. Later, as horse-drawn streetcars became obsolete, venders bought them up and converted them into dining cars instead.
By the end of the 19th century, manufacturers were building newer models with indoor seating for customers, tables and even bathrooms.
Today’s American Diner
The transition from a converted streetcar to the style we know today began around 1930, as diners became fixed places of business offering full booths, tables, more seating, air conditioning and bathrooms.
So, if you’ve ever wondered why the classic American diner resembles an oversized streetcar, it’s because that’s how they began!