When Howard Johnson’s Served up the Village

When Howard Johnson’s Served up the Village
L: a shot from the recent Mad Men episode that featured a trip to Howard Johnson's; R: an historic advertisement for the hotel/restaurant chain

For all you Mad Men fans, Howard Johnson’s is probably fresh on your mind.  And since we here at GVSHP are such fans of the show (NYC in the 1960s….how could a preservationist not love it?!) we had to investigate the history of the establishment in the Village.  And we were surprised to find that there were in fact two locations of the chain right here in our neighborhood.

L: a shot from the recent Mad Men episode that featured a trip to Howard Johnson's; R: an historic advertisement for the hotel/restaurant chain

The first was located at 415 6th Avenue, at the corner of Greenwich Avenue.  Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York recently unearthed an advertisement for the restaurant in a 1955 issue of the Village Voice, advertising its special Thanksgiving dinner menu….and boy was it a steal!  According to another historic Voice article, on May 9, 1963, the Chelsea-Greenwich Village Branch of the NAACP began picketing the Howard Johnson Restaurant at 415 Sixth Avenue, charging it with discriminatory hiring practices.  These pickets were taking place at Howard Johnson’s all over the country.

The site at the intersection of 6th Avenue & Greenwich Avenue where Howard Johnson's once was located

The Thanksgiving dinner advertisement. Image Courtesy of Jeremiah's Vanishing New York

According to the Howard Johnson’s history blog, HoJoLand.com, there was a second location at the corner of 14th Street and 1st Avenue, although which corner it does not say.

While historic information on the Howard Johnsons of the Village appears to be sparse, GVSHP has been able to unearth some pretty surprising details about some other diners of historic interest in the Village.  Read our research about the possible location of the diner in the Village which may have served as the inspiration for Edward Hopper’s painting “Nighthawks” HERE.

Please share with us any recollections or stories you may have of either of the Village Howard Johnson’s or any other classic neighborhood diners!

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Dana
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Dana was GVSHP's Programs and Administrative Associate from 2010 to 2013.

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2 comments on “When Howard Johnson’s Served up the Village
  1. Dana Nick says:

    Kerouac mentions this Howard Johnson’s location in his collection “Lonesome Traveler,” in the short piece “New York Scenes.”

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