This book is the first comprehensive, documented history of this popular institution, which millions of Americans fondly remember. For 150 years, the soda fountain was a community social center. In big cities, the neighborhood fountain had a clubby atmosphere because it drew its clientele from nearby businesses and apartment buildings. In small towns, soda fountains were very democratic because they attracted all ages and all classes of people. In both cities and small towns, soda fountains were part of the social infrastructure that held the neighborhood together. The evolution of the soda fountain reflected momentous developments in American history: urbanization, the temperance movement and Prohibition, the Great Depression, technological progress, the decline of Main Street and Center City, the Car Culture, and the growth of suburbia. The fountain's evolution was also closely tied to trends in retailing, food service, lifestyles, and the decorative arts.