Diners of New England

Horse-drawn night lunch wagons served hot, inexpensive meals to shift workers in Worcester, Massachusetts and other mill towns and cities of New England and New York. The wagons gradually grew larger, lost their wheels, and were planted on permanent foundations. The makers of the lunch wagons emulated the sleek dining cars of passenger trains, appealling to a wider clientel with the shiny new "diners."

As automobiles carried people further from cities and towns, the diners followed, springing up beside highways and service stations, feeding nomadic travelers 24 hours a day, just as their predecessors had served the millworkers around the clock.

Most of the original diner manufacturers are no longer in business -- all of the New England builders are gone. Their creations remain, anachronistic islands of comfort food and civility on the impersonal post-industrial landscape, largely bypassed by the interstates with their faceless fastfood service plazas, but that just means more room at the counter for folks who appreciate the difference.

Some diners we've visited:

All text, images, and layout (c) Copyright 2002 Robert F. Marville, Jr.