NYPL Exhibitions


A century ago, when New York City was half its current size, 41 percent of the population was foreign born, with most immigrants arriving from Europe. Today the city remains a magnet, and recent decades of immigration from Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Caribbean have made New York one of the most diverse places in the world.

These newcomers, together with a new public zeal for capturing the edible past, have transformed the landscape of lunch. The culinary mainstream has expanded to include flavors and preparations unheard of in the cafeterias and soda fountains that formerly dominated midtown. Other foods, once specialties of their own neighborhoods, are now appreciated citywide. Savory pies symbolize this new landscape: a pastry-wrapped quick lunch is a concept familiar all over the world, and today it is a favorite all over New York.