Recently spotted this on the Old New York page on Facebook...
"Cafeteria near Cooper Union on Bowery. 1942. Photo by Marjory Collins. Photo from the Library of Congress."
As people in the Facebook comments pointed out, this was the Sagamore Cafeteria, St. Mark's Place and Third Avenue. Jack Kerouac called it "the respectable bums' cafeteria."
In his memoir, the poet Ted Berrigan recalled:
"The Sagamore was a big place always filled with bums snoozing over a cold cup of coffee. When you entered the place, you went through a turnstile and took a ticket, whih had various monetary values printed along its edges. Then, as you went down the cafeteria line, each counter man punch your new total cost.
Nobody bothered anybody, so it was a good place to sit if you wanted to talk for hours, which we usually did. Good, that is, if you could ignore so much human misery around you."
And today, of course, it looks like this...