People Complained About Food Trucks in 1907

Thanks to Lunch’er Copyboy for sending along this great old photo of Herald Square:

Photo courtesy of Shorpy

A photo of Herald Square back when the New York Herald was still there. I didn’t know about this ornate building, complete with green-glowing-eyed owls on the pediment. More to the point, if you look next to the curb in the center-right, you’ll see “Lunch Wagon No. 9″ – 1908′s version of a food cart. (close up attached) I wonder what they served? Some things never change: attached also here is a letter from 1907 complaining about a lunch cart at 6th Ave and 35th st. – apparently the very one in the photo.

Check out the letter after the jump…


  • Food Trucks: Fighting the Man for over 100 Years!

  • Must have been sent in by Jessica Lappin’s great grandfather…

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Great article

  • “Who has the pull” Didn’t know they used that lingo back then! lol

  • from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly June 1, 1893: In 1893 the Church Temperance Society decided to abandon the various coffee houses they had been running. They instead dedicated their funds to operating a night lunch wagon that would serve working people on the street from 7:30 pm through 4:30 am. At this time restaurants closed at 8 pm so the alternative location to obtain a meal was a saloon. According to the article “. . . the proposal of the excise commissioners of New York to issue 200 all-night licenses for saloons . . . .” prompted the society’s response. This experiment proved so successful that the Auxiliary opened more lunch wagons around the city. They procured a gaily decorated lunch wagon and permission to stand it in Union Square where it served tea, coffee, milk, sandwiches and the like for 5 cents each. The all night eatery proved to be so successful that the Temperance Society opened others including one that stood in Herald Square. It was noted in the New York Times that the Herald Square night lunch wagon supplied 67,600 meals in 1894 “and made a profit to the society of $1,100.” ***

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    “the now overcrowded streets”…little did he know

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Lunch Wagon No. 9 worked that beat from 7am to 7pm. The food was mediocre at best. Those in the know would only frequent the cart on 35th & 6th after 7pm, once the Lunch Wagon #9 crew took over.

    Consult Ye Olde Midtowne Lunch Almanac for more details

  • Cool thread, part History Channel, part Man versus Food. I find it ironic that the Temperance Society founded an early lunch/grease truck to serve food late night till 4:30AM as 100+ years later, its mostly drunks having their fill of modern versions of hardtack, and mutton sammies.

  • This is a great thread. I love hearing about the history of Herald Square.

  • That’s pretty cool. Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.