The very first rest stops on the New York State Thruway were very different than they are today.

The Thruway Authority is completely overhauling its 27 service areas that are spread out all over New York. These rest areas were originally constructed in the 1950's when automobile travel was new and exciting. Unlike today, there were no chain restaurants or fast food outlets available. Instead, they consisted mostly of cafeteria food, coffee and some light snacks.

Archived images from the Thruway Authority show a completely different time when the rest stop was an elegant place for road trippers to kick back and relax. You can scroll down below for a unique peek into the past and see photos of the cafeteria where the soup of the day cost just 30 cents and uniformed attendees would conduct vehicle safety inspections.

New York State Thruway Authority
New York State Thruway Authority

As car travel became even more popular during the 1970s, these small rest stops quickly became outdated and in need of an upgrade. Howard Johnson’s became the official service area operator in the 1980s. The rest stops were completely renovated and replaced with larger structures in the early 1990s. The Adirondack-style structures were much more modern looking and included more dining options including fast-food restaurants and shops. Howard Johnson's was eventually sold to Marriott Travel Plazas which later became HMS Host who continued to operate some New York rest areas until 2021.

Now, all of the 27 New York State Thruway rest stops are being remodeled for the first time in 30 years and will include new dining options including Shake Shack, Chick-Fil-A and Panera. They will certainly look much different than the original Thruway rest areas pictured below from the 1950s.

What New York State Thruway Rest Stops Looked Like in the 1950s

According to the Thruway Authority, the very first rest stops were erected in the mid-1950s offering travelers cafeteria-style food, coffee, and snacks. Today, these rest stops are going through their second major remodel which will bring new restaurants and amenities for Thruway travelers. According to these old images from the Thruway Authority, our local rest stops have come a long way in seventy years.

New Restaurants Coming to the New York State Thruway

These restaurants will soon be open along the New York State Thruway.

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