Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Dec. 12 LPC Hearing for 104th St. Automat

If you care about the future of the 104th Street Automat, there are four
easy things you can do:

1. Mark your calendar:

Save the date for public hearing for the former H&H Automat, 2710 Broadway at West 104th Street. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has scheduled the hearing for Tuesday, December 12 at 10 a.m. Check the LPC website for the most up-to-date information: (Hearing location: 1 Centre St., 9th Floor)

A strong turnout at the hearing will show the LPC how deeply the neighborhood values this building and its place in New York culture and history.

2. Send letters of support to LPC:

Hon. Robert B. Tierney, Chair

NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

1 Centre Street, 9th Floor, NYC 10007


Fax: 212-669-7955

Phone: 212-669-7888

For sample letters, please visit our website:

Read the LPC statement of significance (below) for additional ideas.

3. Sign the online petition:

Visit our website or Email the link to others who care about the Automat's future.

4. Stay tuned for "Automat-ic Pie"

We are as pleased as punch that grassroots musical activist, singer-songwriter and neighbor Mark Foley was inspired to write "Automat-ic Pie" about the 104th Street H&H Automat. The lyrics are below, and we will add an MP3 recording of this musical treat to our website later this week.

Automat-ic Pie


Cherry pie, you and I

It was automat-ic

When I walked by

With a stack of nickels

And a piece of time

I had my pie

And I made you mine

But some good things

Don't seem to last

And our love went the way

Of that Automat



Hopper might have painted it as Boggie walked by

They probably got some pictures in the MOMA archive

Streamlined stainless, chromed so cool

It looked so sounded good too

'Cause the slide of those nickels opened your door

And brought me the lovin' that I lived for(at the Automat)


Let me tell you sugar, it was a time so sweet

With your flaky crust on that cherry treat

You're always in the mood to meet my needs

But when I bit on you, you got the hold on me

And if you'd come back, you'd find it's true

I'd build an Automat for me & you(for me and you)


The automat's gone and a drug store's there

But it don't have a potion to ease my cares

There's even talk to tear the whole place down

That would make it worse since you're not 'round

My just desserts turned to vinaigrette

But I'll always cherish the place we met(that's the Automat)

Copyright 2006 Mark Foley 917.776.8948

Landmarks Preservation Commission Statement of Significance for 2710-2714 Broadway



The 3-story, limestone-clad Horn & Hardart Automat-Cafeteria Building located at 2710-2714 Broadway (at West 104th Street) is one of the most distinctive small-scale commercial buildings in New York City executed in the Art Deco style, and is, in particular, one of the best surviving examples of the popular chain restaurants that proliferated in the city during the first three decades of the 20th century. In 1927, the Horn & Hardart Co. became the leaseholder of this site, which was owned by George W. Walker. The structure, originally two stories plus mezzanine, was constructed in 1930 to the design of the firm of F[rederick]. P[utnam]. Platt & Brother [Charles Carsten Platt], specialists in building alterations who executed numerous New York commissions for the Horn & Hardart Co. from about 1916 to 1932. By 1927, F.P. Platt & Bro. had developed a design prototype for purpose-built Horn & Hardart automat-cafeteria buildings that assisted the restaurant chain in achieving a consistent commercial image. The Horn & Hardart Co., established in 1911, was the New York subsidiary of the Horn & Hardart Baking Co. of Philadelphia, Pa., which had been incorporated in 1898 by Joseph V. Horn and Frank A. Hardart, lunchroom proprietors since 1888. In 1902, Horn & Hardart opened their first waiterless Philadelphia restaurant, or "automat," in which customers could retrieve food directly from windows after depositing nickels in European-made equipment. The first New York automat opened in 1912, with American machinery, at No. 1557 Broadway in Times Square.

Automats, known for uniformly good food at low cost, became wildly popular and one of the city's cherished democratic institutions, appealing to a wide clientele.

This Horn & Hardart Automat-Cafeteria Building is made notable by its glazed polychrome Art Deco style terra-cotta ornament on the third story. Executed in hues of green, blue, tan, and gold luster by the Atlantic Terra Cotta Co., it is located on sills, panels above the windows, stylized pilaster capitals, and the building's terminating band. The highly sophisticated panels feature stylized floral motifs and zigzag patterns; the modeler of these panels is not yet identified, but the work is strikingly similar to that of preeminent architectural sculptor Rene P. Chambellan.

Horn & Hardart remained a tenant on the ground story and mezzanine of this building until 1953. The mezzanine level interior was remodeled as a full story in 1955. There have been a wide variety of commercial and organizational tenants over the years. While the current groundfloor storefront covers historic elements, visible above this are the upper portion of the original central segmental arched opening (with a fluted molded granite surround with a keystone) and the top of the bronze entrance portal and molded bronze spandrel.

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