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Pete's Bar: 1950

1950. Pete's Bar at Washington Market in Lower Manhattan. Photo by Al Aumuller, New York World-Telegram & Sun. View full size.

1950. Pete's Bar at Washington Market in Lower Manhattan. Photo by Al Aumuller, New York World-Telegram & Sun. View full size.


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I worked at the Washingon Market in 1955-1961

I was a maintenance man for the Market Dept on NYC and the Washington Market was our shop hdq. You could buy any kind of exotic meat or food, with lots of fast food places, like in the photo. The Washington Market was around since the 1790s. It was later torn down for the Twin Towers.

Sitting on stools for sure

Look at the three men staring at the camera. All have their hands clasped and resting on the counter. That is a sitting position. If standing the elbows would be resting on the counter top supporting weight.

Lunch Counter

If you add a zero to the prices, you get close to the current prices. The "Dollar Menus" are gimmicks.


this is a nice picture. i love these photos!

What? Not a Coca Cola sign

What? Not a Coca Cola sign floating around?


To put the prices in perspective you need to consider what wages were in 1950. I think my dad earned about a dollar an hour in those days, or about seven hamburgers per hour. Today you can get a basic "hamburger" at McDonald's or Burger King for one dollar, which is about one-seventh of the minimum hourly wage. So really the price hasn't changed.

Lunch Counter

Notice there are no women ... where are they? Goes to show how the working scene has changed since back then. Also note how a slice of cheese doubles the price of a hamburger back then... that would be outrageous today.

Striped tie

The man in the striped tie looks like he is probably standing, with the stool in front of him accounting for the space between him and the counter.

Counter stools

Counter stools are generally high, not low. That's why there's a rail for you to put your feet on. Otherwise they'd just dangle above the floor.


I worked in the financial district for many years and remember Petes Bar well from the 1950s. There were stools all the way around the counter. What memories! Thank you.


If you measure the shoulders of the men to the man working behind the counter, they are pretty much level. They most likely are standing.

Standing or Sitting?

Are those men standing to eat or sitting? Just curious. Don't we wish we had prices like that. I remember when I used to get a chicken salad sandwich on toast with pickles and potato chips and a large cherry coke for 25 cents at the soda fountain. Then I could walk 7 or 8 blocks to the bakery and get a big cream puff filled with custard for 5 cents. I miss that.


Wow, you can have three hamburgers for less than the price of franks and beans.

Great pic!

Menu items

Some of the menu items aren't found at most lunch counters today: liverwurst sandwich, sardine sandwich, fresh ham knuckle. I assume the last one is the knuckle end of an uncured pork leg.

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