Horn & Hardart Automat
2712 Broadway (at 104th Street)
Joseph V. Horn and Frank A. Hardart first became lunchroom proprietors in 1888 and incorporated the Horn & Hardart Baking Company in Philadelphia in 1898. In 1902, Horn & Hardart opened their first waiterless Philadelphia restaurant - an "automat" where customers retrieved food directly from windowed compartments after depositing a nickel. Horn & Hardart established their New York subsidiary in 1911 and opened the first New York automat in 1912 at 1557 Broadway in Times Square. The automats became popular for their good food and low prices.
This Art Deco automat building was built in 1930 and designed by Frederick Putnam Platt and Charles Carsten Platt (F.P. Platt & Brothers), a team that had designed numerous buildings for Horn & Hardart between 1916 and 1932. This was a prototypical example, with distinctive large windows and glazed polychromatic Art Deco glazed terra-cotta ornamentation above the third floor windows. The automat remained until 1953. Automats began a long slow decline in the 1960s and the last New York automat closed in 1991.