Experience the history of the American diner!
The Drawings and Documents Archive’s new exhibit, Indiana Diners and Drive-ins, explores the architecture of the diner from its origin as a night lunch wagon where night workers and bar patrons bought five-cent ham sandwiches and pie after the regular restaurants had closed for the night, to the rocket ship-inspired drive-ins of the 1950s where teenagers cruised in their Ford convertibles, looking for a malt and a burger.
The humble diner is a familiar aspect of the American landscape. No road trip would be the same without its comforting neon beacon at the end of a long road. And every late night out deserves to be capped off with a visit to the local greasy spoon to ease the transition home. We may take the structure of the modern diner for granted, but it has experienced many architectural revisions in its progression from novelty business to regular customers. Indiana diners, as well as the diner’s midcentury offspring, the drive-in, developed according to cultural interests and pastimes and, therefore, architecturally reflect what was happening in the state and in the country.