Monday, October 31, 2011

The Metro Diner

by G. Jack Urso

"Metro Diners" were ubiquitous throughout mid-century, post-war America.

This image resembles the original look of the Metro Diner in Albany, NY

(Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York).

say buddy, got the time?

nowhere to go?

it’s always half past midnight

down at the Metro


Pop rolls in ‘round about eleven

the clientele he knows quite well

a few sinners from heaven

a few saints from hell


black marble countertops

under an art deco clock

if you ever get lost

it’s just down the block


jukebox ain’t had nothing new

since the old man bought the place

back in ‘52


the air is always thick

with lucky strikes, camels

and marlboros


the bets are easy to make

cause the cops are on the take

pimps, prostitutes, and railroad porters

all take a break and place their orders


hamburgers sizzle on the grill

the boys work the counter

fran has your bill


they got decaf

or would you like

a regular cup of joe

black and white?


. . . there you go . . .
Fran and Joe (Pop) Sr. with two unidentified patrons, circa 1959.
Notice the juke box and black marble countertop.

Albany Times-Union
Date: Tuesday, September 9, 1986
Grace O'Connor Staff writer
Section: LOCAL, Page: B4

"Pop" Urso at the Metro Diner, circa 1960.
The Metro Diner, a landmark on Broadway in Albany for more than 40 years, has vanished in a cloud of demolition dust. . . . it was moved to 527 Broadway "from someplace downstate in the 1940s. It was about 5 years old then . . . and that's like brand new for a diner. . . In 1952 when Joe Urso became owner, the diner "was fantastic. . . . You never saw anything like it." With seating for 42 at the marble-topped counter and in the booths, "it was one of the largest businesses per seating capacity in the city."

The clientele was mixed. . . . "We also had the pimps and the prostitutes, because that was their area between Green Street and Broadway at the time." Coffee was a dime then. ". . . hamsteak, eggs and homefries cost $1.10."

Things began to change in the mid-1970s. Businesses closed or moved out of downtown Albany. The diner no longer needed to stay open all night. The old juke box with its spinning 45s was taken out.

"The building was so deteriorated, it was a real hazard. . . . It was more appropriate to remove the structure since it could not be utilized as a diner because it had been completely vandalized, gutted."

The Metro Diner, circa 1985. The aluminum sliding long gone.
A shadow of its former self.

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