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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Mayfair Restaurant: 1948

Mayfair Restaurant: 1948

February 10, 1948. Washington, D.C. "Potomac Electric Power Co. -- commercial kitchens, restaurants and lighting. Mayfair Restaurant dining room." You'll come for the food and stay for the flattering indirect illumination. 8x10 acetate negative by Theodor Horydczak. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

A cool place for a gig

I would love to have a gig in this place.

First drink

I had my first mixed drink here, a sloe gin fizz. This would have been in the late 50s.

Rosemary? Or Bing?

There are special direct lights above where the jazz combo would sit. There's an upright bass (lying down) and two bandstands. What would the third instrument be? Wes Montgomery on guitar? I'd love to have that classic microphone, too! Can you imagine Rosemary Clooney standing behind it, crooning for the diners?

White covered bowls

Sugar? They're pretty big.


I want this entire space for my kitchen. Talk about Streamline Modern personified! Not only is there a piano, but there are 2 music stands, and a bass fiddle lying on its side, waiting for the next set. Boy, do I wonder what the colors were.

Please colourize!

I would *love* to see this in colour - those maps must have provided a fabulous backdrop to the rest of the room.

Not to beg

but I sure would love to have one of those matchbooks neatly tucked into the ashtray!!

Yaaah! That ceiling tile!

While it was fashionable at the time, especially in a postwar modern restaurant, that acoustic ceiling tile is seriously scary in our circa 1905 house. We had it in our master bedroom, and I joyfully tore it off in one of our first remodeling projects.

Ten years later, I still haven't removed it from my home office, but doing so is definitely in the queue.

The Mayfair

This was apparently taken on the occasion of a major remodeling project. On Nov. 29, 1947, the Mayfair (F Street at 13th NW) advertised that it was closing for four weeks for renovation.

Who'd Have Believed It?

"You'll come for the food and stay for the flattering indirect illumination."

How times have changed

For a moment I was puzzled by the black round objects on the tables, before realizing they were ashtrays. Things sure were different back then.

The map segment painted on the back wall, to the right of the grand piano (speaking of which, how many casual restaurants have those today?) is apparently the work of a geographically challenged artist. Peru to the north of Venezuela?

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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