Why diners look like trains – a brief history of the American fast food icon

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Charming, novel and quintessentially American: the humble diner is in many ways to the US what the pub is for Britons. They may all be built from the same blueprint, with their booth seating, neons signage and train carriage-esque format; and offer up the same formula – cheap food at all hours – but every diner has its own, distinct soul.

They look like rail carriages, incidentally, because they essentially once were – in some cases converted from such into mobile eateries, and otherwise built to replicate them. To learn of their beginnings, we must travel back to the late 19th century and then to New Jersey, which remains America’s undisputed diner capital to this day. 

The cheap-and-cheerful…

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