Gorgeous Photos Of New York's Classic Diners Before They Disappeared Forever

New York’s restaurant scene is thriving, and there’s more variety of food available today than ever before.

However, some longtime New Yorkers will argue one important component has begun to disappear: the classic diner.

In the last decade, many of the city’s original railcar-inspired, chrome-and-neon-clad restaurants have either been demolished or relocated to cities across the country. Though some remain, there just aren’t as many classic joints where you can satisfy your craving for greasy sandwiches and eggs at all times of the night.

French photographer
Gregoire Alessandrini took these photos of some of New York’s few remaining diners when he came to the city in the 1990s.

The Moondance Diner was built near the Holland Tunnel on Sixth Avenue in the ’30s and made appearances in “Friends,” “Spider-Man,” and “Sex and the City.” In 2007 the struggling restaurant was bought and transplanted to a small town in Wyoming, where heavy snow and ice in its first winter caused the decades-old roof to collapse. The owners were forced to rebuild much of the restaurant, and the Moondance closed once and for all in 2012.

Jerry Lewis and David Letterman were once regulars at the Cheyenne, the diner that was hauled away in two pieces to Alabama in 2009. Years later, the Western and Native-American themed restaurant still has no permanent home, while its original site on 9th Avenue will soon be developed into a 13-story mixed-use building.

Chelsea’s Empire Diner was a haven for quirky artistic types for 34 years until its closing in 2010. Chef Amanda Freitag is planning a still-unnamed restaurant in the space, which was briefly known as the Highliner after the Empire’s closing.

The popular Market Diner, on the corner of 43rd Street and 11th Avenue, reopened under new management in 2009 after being closed for more than two years. Frank Sinatra allegedly used to hang out here, and in one episode of “Seinfeld” the gang comes to the diner in search of black-market shower heads. Here’s what it looked like in the ’90s.

The Jones Diner at the corner of Lafayette and Great Jones Streets had dirt-cheap $US3 breakfast specials that catered to the factory workers who had eaten there since 1938. It officially closed in 2002.

Cuban-Chinese restaurants like Sam Chinita (also known as “Mi Chinita” or “La Chinita Linda” at different points in the restaurant’s history) were not uncommon in the 1960s, when Chinese people fled Cuba at the beginning of Fidel Castro’s reign.

The River Diner, on 11th Avenue (Diner Avenue) and 37th Street, was demolished in March of 2004.

This particular spot was known by several different names — the Terminal Diner, the Lunchbox Diner, and perhaps most fittingly, the Lost Diner — before it closed in 2006.

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