Diners of Allentown, Pennsylvania

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Diners of Allentown, Pennsylvania
Tom Sawyer Diner - Postcard.jpg
Tom Sawyer Diner, 1962-2002
Moved in 2006, now located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

The city of Allentown, Pennsylvania has been known for its diners since the early 1900s. Many highways were built to accommodate early truck traffic between manufacturing cities to distribution centers, and the concept developed to support truck and long distance travelers along these inter-city roads.[1][2]

Located at the intersection of several main highways (U.S. Route 22, US 309, US 222), as automobile traffic along the roads increased during the 1920s and 1930s, Allentown became a popular stopover for travelers heading to New York City and Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Lancaster. Route 22 in particular, known as the "William Penn Highway," brought hungry travelers though the city on Tilghman Street before the Lehigh Valley Thruway bypass (1955) moved most long-distance road traffic north of the city.[1]


Diners differ from restaurants in the sense that they were set up as prefabricated buildings, mostly manufactured from aluminum or stainless steel. Less expensive to buy because of their prefabricated nature, they were manufactured in assembly plants, with different manufacturers having different styles, and could be purchased and set up quickly once land was obtained by the buyers. Also, they could be picked up and moved from one location to another. Large outdoor signs, mostly using neon, advertised the facility along the highway.[1]

Sometimes called "Greasy spoons", inside, diners consist of a lunch counter and booths in the dining area, and a cooking area behind a pass-thru window to the rear of the lunch counter. Service is provided by waitresses, the food being prepared and forwarded to the waitresses via the pass-thru window. Diners generally offer 24-hour breakfast and operating hours with a wide range of foods, including homemade meatloaf, open faced sandwiches, gravy and french fries, chicken, with pastries and pies for dessert. They offer a casual atmosphere, with counter take-out service.[1]


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