See Original Article by Gallery Intel

“I have tried to present my sensations in what is the most congenial and impressive form possible to me.”

The very fact that the key figures in Edward Hopper’s ‘Chop Suey’ are two women dining alone at a restaurant is a testament to the fundamental changes in American society. Up until the 20’s, such behavior would have been construed as inappropriate, but the rise of feminism in the mid-1920’s contributed to gradual changes in such perceptions and restaurants began to post signs in their windows ‘Tables for Ladies’.

Chinatown, New York City, 1934. Gelatin Silver Print. Imogen Cunningham © Imogen Cunningham Trust. Image courtesy Seattle Art Museum

In 1925 one society columnist wrote that chop suey, a name commonly given to most second floor Chinese restaurants in New York City, has assumed a new, significant role in the lives of New Yorkers. It had become “a staple… vigorously vying with sandwiches and salad as the noontime nourishment of  the young women typists and telephonists of John, Dey, and Fulton streets. At lunchtime there is an eager exodus towards Chinatown of women workers employed in Franklin, Duane, and Worth streets. To them the district is not an intriguing bit of transplanted Orient. It’s simply a good place to eat.”