By 1900, Manhattan was virtually non-agricultural, bringing in meat from as far away as Ohio and importing specialty products from overseas. Markets were the officially-sanctioned means of retail and wholesale food distribution, though pushcarts still flourished in many of the more densely-populated neighborhoods such as the Lower East Side. Restaurants were big business. High society lived in restaurants and for catered parties, and other eateries were growing just as fast to serve the needs of the swelling ranks of office workers.

Food traditions and food choices of immigrant communities were slowly being assimilated into more mainstream cultures. The popularity of German restaurants had created a fad of roof gardens. Chinese restaurants, once considered exotic and dangerous, were now beginning to gain acceptability. There were successful Italian restaurants and bakeries in 1900, and the beginnings of industries that featured Italian foods such as Polly-o ricotta cheese. (Though Polly-o is now owned by Kraft, some of these are family-run businesses today.) Italians manufactured pasta at home, sometimes for retail sale. The Syrian Quarter grew in the 1880s around Washington Street from Battery Place to Rector Street. Commerce featured coffee houses, tobacco and confectionery shops, and stores sold baklava.

Besides markets and restaurants, a few manufacturing companies still had homes in Manhattan. Huyler's Cocoa at 17th Street and Irving Place and John Matthews Apparatus Co., a seltzer company on First Avenue at 26th Street, were two of these. Both eastside and westside harbor fronts were major fishing and oyster docks, and leading portals for food imports and exports. Food manufacturing concerns were moving to other boroughs where real estate was cheaper, but often the greater portion of their output was sold back to Manhattan.

NY Biscuit Company, a group of bakeries, had the biggest bakery in the country on 10th
Avenue at 14th Street. In 1898, NY Biscuit Co. merged with the American Biscuit Co. to
form the National Biscuit Co., or NaBisCo. In 1900, there were 2,500 bakeries in New York and 300 members in the closely-held Bagel Bakers local in 1910.

By 1898, all animal slaughtering in Manhattan was restricted to the Abbatoir Center in the East 40s, and around the mid-West-40s to the Hudson. The volume of meat consumed in New York alone suggested relocation to outside the city, but the growing demand for kosher meat, which has to be eaten within three days of slaughter, kept New York slaughterhouses competitive with the Midwest. Slaughterhouses in Brooklyn were concentrated around Newtown Creek and English Kill. (See Brooklyn from map on previous page)

In the 1920s, many of these businesses, displaced by the building of the Holland Tunnel,
moved to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn where they are today. Manhattan still has several
pistachio, coffee and nut importers in this downtown area. (See "Lebanon Restaurant" on LINKS page)

Assimilation was also affecting immigrant communities themselves; although then, as now, food choices were some of the most enduring characteristics of and strongest bonds in a neighborhood.