Nostalgia Diners

Many medium to large size towns and lots of cities have nostalgia restaurants that attempt to recreate the atmosphere of the 1950s and 1960s style diner, from decor to music to art.

The question I have is: in the 1950s and 1960s, were there lots of 1920s and 1930s style nostalgia restaurants people went to?

In the 1930s, were there lots of turn of the century nostalgia restaurants?

And why have restauranteurs focused on the 1950s, I would think there would be interest in recreating 1920s speakeasies, and yet none exist…

This is really a good question, in that was there much nostalgia for the 1920s/1930s in the 1950s/1960s.
Unfortunately I have no proof, but from reading the literature of the time, the emphasis was much more on moving forward, new concepts, new idea, new architecture.
There seems to have been much activity in regards to restoring historical places (as a read of National Geographics of the time will give you), particularly Colonial and Ante-Bellum estates.
Actually if there was any nostalgia at that time, it may well have been for turn of the 20th century small town living (the only real evidence I have that I know every one has seem - The 1960 Twilight Zone episode “A Stop at Willoughby” - yeah, it’s weak, but I have seen similar wistfullness about the turn of the 20th century in other print materials).

OK, let me translate that rambling post from above… :smack:
1.) I’m well read, and literate, and have read many magazines and books from the period in question (1950s/1960s - yeah college library job). However, I am no historian, so it’s possible everything I say is just a WAG.
2.) OK, there was probably no nostaglia for the depression era (since most people in the US would have had a generally negative impression of it), and probably very little for the 1920s (aside from general wistfulness of, say, a 60 year old man in 1960 for his youth) - the 1920s, in my opinion, had most people looking forward to the future, and away from the horror of the Great War era.
3.) There was concerted efforts to restore Colonial Estates, plus other historic sites. Perhaps garishly, but none the less they tried (this also may have had to do with wealthy folks donating their family manisons to the county, townships, whatever, to get tax breaks, and get rid of a costly burden - this happened alot in Nassau county during the 40s/50s/60s).
4.) Any nostalgia there was, would seem to have been for the precieved ‘quieter’, turn of the 20th century small town life (I’m pretty sure there was NOT any wistfullness for the cramped, crowded Lower East Side turn of the century Lifestyle)
5.) Art Deco, Chrome, and Neon have been around for a long time - the Diners of the 1950s did not necessarily look much different than those of the 1930s - (Late 60s did start with that down home, earthy architecture - Earth Colors, Pebbled Walls, RR Tie Planters and all)
6.) Modern Diners being build (around here, at least) are still Chrome, Glass and Neon - they are not necessarily based on 1950s diners, although they are not that different either - they just are what Diners are expected to be.
7.) Face it - Cars from the 1950s and 1960s just kick ass :smiley: - OK, maybe they were poorly made, unsafe, and gas-guzzling, but man was the styling cool :cool: (even the Edsel ain’t half bad, Lemon-sucking grill and all :o ).

how about a whole town with a 1920’s theme !

Ask Jerry Denbo, French Lick’s state representative and a die-hard casino supporter for the area, what the region will look like in 10 years and his eyes light up.
“It will be just like you stepped back into the 1920s,” he said, adding that the towns will take on a historical theme with corner drugstores and diners. “You won’t see any golden arches around here.”

There are many diners in Nassau County that are still there. Hempstead Turnpike & Old Country Rd come to mind. But where is the 50’s memorabilia? Not there because in the 50’s it wasn’t there either. Except maybe a jukebox. The 50’s also marked the beginning of rock and roll. There are not many around now who call the 20s the good old days & I don’t recall many in the 50s who did either. You need music for that & there isn’t much music around from the 20’s.(records that is)

Complete with a death ray? :smiley:

The New Urbanist movement can be summarized as an attempt by urban planners and enlightened developers to recreate the land use patterns, and often the Atrts and Crafts style architecture – of the 1920s.

In the 1920s, many upscale planned communities (Shaker Heights, Ohio, for one) used late 1800s-era English country estates as an architectural ideal.

Yep, and even the ones recently redone (Golden Reef, Atlantic, Jericho, Concord) have that chrome ‘Art Deco’ style (well, basically it boils down to chromed frame, glass panels, and lots of Neon).

Nowadays, in the local McDonald’s and Burger King - the one in Woodmere off Broadway is kinda knock off of a Hard Rock Cafe (except very little memorabilia on the wall - mostly Movie Star photos - but they do have booths shaped like 57 Chevys and Leopard and Zebra skinned chairs).
There is nothing to say that 50s style architecture is unusable - heck, Checker’s kinda knocks it off with their stands, but the look is undeniably modern (well, 90s). Indeed, some of the excessive 50/60s Modern style (World’s Fair style - my favorite, all that Plastic panels, and odd Space Age cladding/struts, plus weird angled shapes) seems quite impractical nowadays (wonder if they will ever try to duplicate that - probably).
Elmwood is quite right, Tudor style was very popular in the 1910s and 1920s, as was colonial (well, Federal), and Southwest (Adobe) style. Notice, however, that when the mega-suburbs of the 1940s/1950s were being built (not that urban sprawl has really stopped or anything), it was usually (not always) in very distinctive, ‘modern’ (for the 40s/50s) styles (quite probably cause those styles were rather cheap to build - no inlaid brick or cornices or stepped walls for you…)

One word: Disney.
Main Street USA was an attempt at recreating a turn-of-the-century flavor. Of course, most of us with that calibre of nostalgia never saw the real era.

Hay, the whole town of El Centro, Ca. is 1920’s (where I grew up)

Spelling and grammer subject to change with out notice

Those in Fort Collins can. Main Street USA is based on College Avenue in downtown Fort Collins, Colorado. The iimagineer that designed Main Street USA was from the area.

If you look at old movies from the “nostalgic” era, or, for instance, James Lileks’ lengthy photo essay on the subject ), you get the impression that traditional diners and similar restaurants changed little from the time they appeared right up until they began to disappear. So in the 1950s and 1960s, diners weren’t “nostalgic” but merely continued to exist as they had for 40 or 50 years.

McDonalds, and similar places, probably seemed to be a great improvement over the worst of the old diners, the ones that were actually unsanitary and served food of poor, inconsistent quality. It’s too bad that “fast food” also drove out most of the better places as well.