While untold millions have gazed upon the brightly lit, lonely confines of the diner pictured in Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, the West Village eatery that was said to inspire it most likely never existed at all.
That’s the conclusion reached by Jeremiah Moss, who has spent the past week doing some inspiring detective work to try to track down the diner’s location.
Moss buried himself in the Municipal Archives, searching through old Land Books and microfilm and methodically crossing off potential locations of Hopper’s diner, which was widely believed to be located on Mulry Square, a triangular protuberance bordered by Greenwich Avenue and Seventh Avenue South. While his search didn’t turn up any record of the diner, he did find plenty of old photos of the intersection that are plenty intriguing in their own right.
Moss has reached the conclusion that “outside of Hopper’s imagination, there was no Nighthawks diner at all. … The Hopper diner never stood at Mulry Square’s northern tip.”
There is still a possibility that the painting was based on a diner that stood at the corner of Perry Street and Seventh Avenue South, but unless Moss finds a photo or some other record of it, it looks like the mystery is finally solved, though somewhat unsatisfyingly. Still, one can always hope …