According to the American Diner Museum Web site, the first diner was actually a basket from which Walter Scott, a pressman working in Providence, Rhode Island, sold sandwiches to newspaper workers and patrons of men’s clubs around 1858. Later, Scott expanded his method of delivery to a horse-drawn covered wagon.
The first New Jersey diner as we know it was built in 1917 in Bayonne by Jerry O’Mahoney. The restaurants were elongated stainless steel buildings resembling the dining cars of railroad trains, hence the name, “diner.”
The Low House exhibit comprises seven rooms of photographs, architecture, and artifacts relating to the New Jersey diner experience. One room is devoted to iconic diner food. Booths have been reconstructed to capture the essence of a true New Jersey diner experience.
“Icons of American Culture: History of New Jersey Diners” is free and open to the public. The Cornelius Low House is located at 1225 River Road in Piscataway. The exhibit is open 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays (except holidays). For more information, contact the Low House at 732-745-4177.