The New York Public Library's new exhibit places the focus on what we imagine is many Americans' favorite time of day: Lunchtime.

"Lunch Hour NYC" takes visitors through 150 years of lunch in the Big Apple -- quick-lunch, lunch at home, charitable lunch, power lunch -- all influenced by the city's fast pace, which the exhibit argues shaped the modern concept of lunch as we know it. It opened Friday and will run through Feb. 17, 2013.

A release explains the importance of understanding lunchtime:

From kitchen tables to cafeterias, oysters to Jamaican beef patties, the changes in lunch reflect demographic shifts, economic development, and the city's historic appetite for new foods.

Items on display include menus from landmark eateries like Schrafft’s, Delmonico’s, and Forum of the Twelve Caesars; Noah Webster's personal copy of his 1841 dictionary, which includes an entry for "lunch;" an authentic reconstructed Automat machine; famous caricatures that once hung on the walls of Sardi's and more.

Get a sneak peek of the exhibit in the gallery below.

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  • Hot Dog Stand

    Photograph taken by Berenice Abbott at West St. and North Moore, Manhattan. Gelatin silver print, 1936.

  • Lunch Venue with a Deli Counter

    Silver gelatin print, 1942.

  • Delicatessen

    Inside the exhibit.

  • Deli Menu

    Inside the exhibit. Take a close look at the vintage prices for deli sandwiches on this menu.

  • Pretzels

    Inside the exhibit. Pretzels were an early street food in New York, and lunch for some.

  • Automat

    Inside the exhibit. Eight sections of an authentic Automat, restored.

  • Luncheonette and Soda Fountain

    Inside the exhibit.

  • Oyster Cart

    In the gallery's lobby, this mock oyster cart reveals how prices have changed over the years.