Miss Albany Diner

Miss Albany Diner
Miss Albany Diner
(formerly Lil's Diner)
A single-storey building in the shape of a railroad car, with an Art Deco facade in cream and maroon stripes situated next to a taller brick building
Miss Albany Diner in April 2010
Location: 893 Broadway, Albany, New York
Coordinates: 42°39′46″N 73°44′41″W / 42.66278°N 73.74472°W / 42.66278; -73.74472Coordinates: 42°39′46″N 73°44′41″W / 42.66278°N 73.74472°W / 42.66278; -73.74472
Built: 1941
Architect: Paterson Vehicle Company (Paterson, New Jersey)
Architectural style: Art Deco
Governing body: Privately owned
NRHP Reference#: 00001278
Added to NRHP: November 6, 2000

Miss Albany Diner (formerly known as Lil's Diner) is a historic diner in Albany, New York built in 1941 and located at 893 Broadway, one of the oldest streets in Albany. Used as a set for the 1987 film Ironweed starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep,[1] it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2000.[2]



In 1929 the site was occupied by a lunch cart providing hot food to workers in the area. It was succeeded by a prefabricated diner built by the Ward & Dickinson Dining Car Company. The current building was erected in 1941 and originally called Lil's Diner. It is a "Silk City Diner" model,[3] manufactured by the Paterson Vehicle Company in Patterson, New Jersey, one of the leading diner manufacturers of the time. The building is typical of the prefabricated diners that were common from the 1920s through the 1940s, built to resemble railroad cars and incorporating elements of Art Deco design. With its interior of cherry wood and porcelain enamelled steel and a geometrically tiled floor, it is one of the few pre-World War II diners in the United States in near-original condition.[4] The interior was depicted by the photorealist artist Ralph Goings in his 1993 painting Miss Albany Diner.[5]

The diner changed hands over the years and was called successively Elaine's, the Firehouse Diner, and the Street Car Diner. Its current name was shared by a chain of several now defunct Miss Albany Diners owned by Stillman Pitts which were popular in Albany during the 1920s,[6] one of which (on Central Avenue) is explicitly mentioned in William Kennedy's novel Roscoe.[7] When Kennedy's earlier novel Ironweed was made into a film in 1986, the diner was restored for use as one of the film's principal locations and given the name "Miss Albany Diner".[1] At the time, a product placement bidding war ensued between Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola over whose logo would be on the top of the diner.[8]

After the filming ended, the diner was bought by Cliff Brown and his wife Jane. Cliff Brown, a former Albany resident and retired insurance salesman for New York Life, gave it the name used in the film, which it has retained to the present day.[4] At Brown's initiative, the building was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on November 6, 2000 and won a Preservation Merit Award in 2002 from the Historic Albany Foundation.[2][9] In late 2009, Brown was 82 and wanted to retire. The diner was put up for sale,[10] but as of 2010, it had still not been sold and continues to be run by Jane Brown.[11]


As of 2010, The Miss Albany Diner serves breakfast, lunch and coffee on a "cash only" basis and is open Tuesday through Sunday until 2:15 pm. It has both waiter and take-out service.[11] Its signature dishes include:

The dishes were created by the owners' son Bill Brown, who had been a chef at the diner for many years.[15] Mad Irish Toast was named one of the "Best Bites of 2002" by the Chicago Sun-Times.[16]

See also

For other historic diners in the same architectural style see:

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b Di Nicola, Dan, "Ironweed Producers Hampered by Weather, Anachronistic Sets", Schenectady Gazette, February 6, 1987, p. 30. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
  2. ^ a b National Register of Historic Places, Listings: November 24, 2000. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
  3. ^ Gutman, Richard (2000). American Diner Then and Now. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 259. ISBN 0801865360. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=K0FM1LJU7EoC&pg=PA259&dq=%22albany+diner%22+silk+City&hl=en&ei=wdCZTLWeFYGWswaskqmdDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22albany%20diner%22%20silk%20City&f=false. 
  4. ^ a b Liquori, Donna (1991-10-06). "Miss Albany Diner Turns a Ripe 50". Times Union (Albany) (Hearst Newspapers). http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-156220006.html. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  5. ^ Louis K. Meisel Gallery, Ralph Goings: Miss Albany Diner, 1993. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
  6. ^ Rittner, Don, Albany Revisited, Arcadia Publishing, 2008, p. 68. ISBN 0738556521
  7. ^ Kennedy, William, Roscoe, Penguin Books, 2002, p. 26. ISBN 0142001732 ("He drove to the Miss Albany Diner on Central Avenue, open all night, found it dark. A sign in the window reported, 'No Food'.")
  8. ^ Di Nicola, Dan, "Tacky Trend: Advertising Playing Big Role in Movies" Daily Gazette, July 5, 1990, p. 9 (Supplement). Retrieved 22 September 2010.
  9. ^ Historic Albany Foundation, Preservation Merit Awards - 2002: Miss Albany Diner. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
  10. ^ Churchill, Chris, "Diner for sale, hold the change", Albany Times Union, November 12, 2009. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
  11. ^ a b See the diner's official Facebook page. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
  12. ^ a b c Bryson, Lew, New York Breweries, Stackpole Books, 2003, p. 96. ISBN 081172817X
  13. ^ a b Williams, China and Blond, Becca, New York State, Lonely Planet, 2004, p. 189. ISBN 1741041252
  14. ^ Albany Times Union, "Ah, Miss Albany", November 20, 2009. Retrieved 22 September 2002.
  15. ^ Cavalcante, Joseph, "Where else can you find a good meal at any hour?", The Business Journal (Albany), June 9, 2000. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
  16. ^ Ontiveros, Sue, "Best Bites of 2002: Beguiling and delicious, these are the winners for our year", Chicago Sun-Times, January 2, 2003. Retrieved via subscription 22 September 2002.

External links

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