Horn & Hardart - March 17, 2014

Last week, the blog started yet another new series - "Signage of the Treasure Tour."  Don't worry. The "Faces of the Tour," the "Records of the Music Room," the movie poster collection, and everything else we think of will all be back.  But for now, we are all about our signs hanging throughout our 100,000 square-foot space.

Joseph Horn was from Philadelphia. Frank Hardart was born in Germany and moved to New Orleans before the two men met.  Horn was the entrepreneur, Hardart was the visionary who brought New Orleans-style coffee and the German concept of ready-made meals to the partnership.  They focused on the cities of Philly and New York City, and together established the Horn & Hardart Automat chain of restaurants.  They offered something never before seen in America:  fast food.  A customer would choose from a selection of hot food presented behind glass doors, put a coin into the slot, and take the food they paid for.  The first store opened at 39 South 13th Street in Philly in 1888, and they incorporated as the Horn & Hardart Baking Company the next year.  By 1941, there were 157 stores between Philly and New York. The arrival of the now-familiar fast food chains like McDonald's spelled the end for Horn & Hardart, and the last of the original stores closed its doors in 1991.

Horn & Hardart proved a lifesaver during the Great Depression with its more-affordable dishes. What was one of their most popular entree selections?

a)  Liver and Onions

b)  Hummus and Pita

c)  Pad Thai

d)  Macaroni and Cheese

e)  Chicken Burritos

Answer Below


1776 offered few happy days for the Americans during the revolution against Great Britain, but today was definitely one of them.  The British Army had been occupying the city of Boston for months, while George Washington and his motley army surrounded them.  No one wanted to fight, so things were at a standstill until Henry Knox pushed or dragged a bunch of cannons from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston - over 200 miles!  In a brilliant overnight maneuver, they placed the cannons on fortifications looking down upon the city, which convinced the British military that it was time to move their headquarters to New York City.  When the largest military power in the world abandoned Boston to a thrown-together army, it was truly a cause to celebrate.  Fortunately, Washington had no idea it would take seven more long, painful, exhausting years before the treaty was signed to end the war.

When most people think of the year 1941, they think about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, or maybe looming Nazi threat in Europe, or the Great Depression. Everything was not dark in America that year, though, because it was also the year when the National Gallery of Art opened in Washington, D.C., under the guiding hand of President Franklin Roosevelt.  The process to gather the art together to put on display began four years earlier, with many private art aficionados donating their collections.  It has not stopped since, as new pieces are regularly added to the tens of thousands of priceless items already in the museum.  Entry into the buildings is free, and anyone visiting the Federal Capitol should consider this a must-see destination.  Check out their website to get an idea of what is there:                             http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb.html


Today we recognize the birth of Roger Brooke Taney (pronounced Taw-nee) in 1777.  Taney was a politician through and through, and he picked his allies well. Specifically, he never wavered in his loyalty to President Andrew Jackson, and he was awarded for that first as Jackson's Attorney General, then his Secretary of the Treasury, and finally as his appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States as its Chief Justice upon the death of John Marshall in 1836.  He remained in that position until his own death in 1864, and that is where he made his greatest impact on the country - most notably with his ruling in the infamous 1857 Dred Scott case that Scott, an enslaved African-American suing for his freedom, was property and as such did not have the rights of a citizen and had no human rights whatsoever to speak of.  This decision proved highly controversial and led to heightened tensions between northern and southern states that led to Civil War four years later.  Um...Happy birthday, Roger?

Now, we need to celebrate the birthday of someone maybe a little less controversial than Mr. Taney and a lot more fun.  So we express our thanks to the parents of Nat "King" Cole for bringing him into the world on this day in 1919.  Born into a musical family, Nat was playing piano and singing professionally by his 18th birthday, even doing a concert tour with another blog favorite, Eubie Blake, before settling down in California.  Radio gave him national exposure, and Johnny Mercer gave him wonderful songs to sing, which Cole did on vinyl, television and movies before his untimely death at the age of 45.  Until it was too late, Cole smoked up to three packs of cigarettes a day in the belief that they helped to give his voice the rich quality his fans adored.  It is more likely they would have preferred a "less rich" voice and more Nat "King" Cole!

QUOTE:  Get me well so I can go on television and tell people to stop smoking. - Nat "King" Cole

Answer:  d)  Macaroni and Cheese - During the 1930's, this proved an affordable and popular meal for people who had little money.