Two hundred years ago, New York was more of a Dutch colony than the city it is today. Dining out was less common then, but when commutes to work became too long to accommodate traveling home for lunch, oyster vendors and food trucks became prevalent. Many New York residents lived in boarding houses, which weren’t especially beautiful or welcoming. As arranged marriages became less common, restaurants and ice cream saloons became a place for dating to occur.
- In the early 19th century, most meals were eaten at home, but the increasing length of commutes helped create a niche filled at first by oyster cellars.
- Industrialization was accompanied by the rise of the food cart, which provided affordable meals to workers.
- As more and more New Yorkers began to live in boarding houses, they sought out opportunities for good food and socialization at places like ice cream saloons.
“Food serves as a nice medium to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of New York City history”