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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • STAY ONE JUMP AHEAD OF TROUBLE, 1945

Grill Noir: 1940

Grill Noir: 1940

May 1940. "A hamburger shop in Durham, North Carolina." George's Grill, open all night. 35mm nitrate negative by Jack Delano. View full size.

 

The smells!

Looking at the picture I can just smell the smell of cooking hamburger and onions on a hot summer night, hear the sizzle on the grill, see the steam rise, and feel the warmth of the cup of coffee put before me. I bet they were good there, lots better than McDonalds.

Then there's the bluesy muted trumpet music and a story for each person in there..... There's a million stories in the Naked City. Who knows, maybe there's a game going upstairs?

Hopper's painting is one of my favorites. I remember an episode of the TV show "That 70's Show" where two of the actors segued into that very scene at the end of the show.

Thirst Stops Here

One of the many ad campaigns for Coca Cola.

That whole block is gone. It is now a parking lot.

In 2007

George's Grill in 2007:

Curb Service Variations

Ice Gang, you must be pretty young not to have heard of it. All I can say is that you've missed out.

The restaurants that I remember that had curb service were drive-ins off the street. The curb was the stop block (or an actual curb if there was a sidewalk between the building and the parking lot). Where there was a paved lot, some drive-ins offered waitresses who wore rollerskates and wheeled your food to you. I can think of two restaurants in my area that are still drive-ins with curb service, Sonic and Stewart's. They don't have dining rooms. Until a few years ago our local Sonic had skating waitresses. When I was much younger I used to go to Sovine's and the South Wind. The latter also had a dining room and a poolroom in the back, along with the obligatory dime a song or 3 for a Quarter jukebox. Those were the days.

Curb Service Explained

Yes, they come out to the curb. The forerunner of the drive through window.

Nighthawks

Reminds me of one of my favorite painters, Edward Hopper... he would have enjoyed this scene.

Curb Service

A term I've never heard of, can anyone explain this method? Do they really run from the kitchen to your car with a hot hamburger sandwich?

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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