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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Pete's Bar: 1950

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.

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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.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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