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The Internet Loves Digital Collections: April 2015

1969 Oak Room menu from the Plaza Hotel
January 18, 1969 menu from the Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel

What was the most viewed image on NYPL's Digital Collections platform in April 2015?

It was a menu.

Specifically, a menu from the Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel, dated January 18, 1969.

How did that happen?

Seems that a little show called Mad Men featured a mention of the Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel in the third episode of this final season. Following the airing of that episode a few weeks ago, Gothamist posted a recap and review titled "Unpacking Last Night's Mad Men: From The Oak Room To Port Authority," featuring some color commentary about the various settings and details in the show. That recap featured a link to the menu above from our Digital Collections, and made that image the most viewed in April 2015.

What sorts of things were the Mad Men characters dining on in January 1969 (or similarly in 1970, where the show's chronology has now arrived)?

  • Shrimp Cocktail ($2.10)
  • Terrine of Imported Foie Gras ($3.65)
  • Sirloin steak (for 2, at $19.70)
  • Pot of coffee ($0.70)

Conveniently, you can see all the dishes on the Oak Room menu transcribed via our "What's on the Menu?" transcription tool.

Tour Book symbol guide
Guide to symbols in a 1910 Tour Book from the Automobile Club of America

Meanwhile, a close second was a 1910 "Tour Book" from the Automobile Club of America (better browsed via our book viewer). That traffic came via a post on Slate's "Vault" blog (featuring "historical treasures, oddities, and delights") titled "The Complex Series of Symbols Early Motorists Used for Wayfinding," which showcased the fascinating set of symbols used in early motorist route descriptions.

Another popular collection that got a lot of notice last month is our nearly complete set of "The Green Books" from 1936-1967, which was just recently put online.

Digital Curatorial Assistant K Menick described the collection in a blog post, noting how these historical documents highlight the contours of a segregated nation listing "hotels, restaurants, beauty salons, nightclubs, bars, gas stations, etc. where black travelers would be welcome. In an age of sundown towns, segregation, and lynching, the Green Book became an indispensable tool for safe navigation."

That's the story for this month! Check back in a few weeks for more stories from our Digital Collections.

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