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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • VOLUNTEER FOR VICTORY

Shulman's Market: 1942

Shulman's Market: 1942

Shulman's Market at N and Union Street SW, Washington. View full size. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Louise Rosskam. Alternate view. In one of the many comments for this post, an alert FOS (Friend of Shorpy) points out the posters of Axis leaders Mussolini, Hitler and Admiral Yamamoto in the window. Along the bottom of each it says What do YOU say America?

 

Across from Shulman's

I lived directly across the street from Shulman's Market from 1946 to 1949. We shopped there all the time, and not only were the houses all heated with coal (we had a large shed in the back yard to hold it), but most all of us had ice delivered in huge blocks for our iceboxes. Hardly anyone around there had a refrigerator. My mother, who is now 90, remembers discussing the Old Testament with the owner often. They were both very religious.

Bernard Shulman

According to the 1942 Polk Directory, 485½ N Street S.W. was Schulman's Grocery. That's how it was spelled in the directory. Bernard was listed as the owner. He lived at 1412 K Street S.E. His wife's name was Clara.

Ninth Street

My grandparents lived on 9th Street S.E. There was a corner store with the same yellow paint job just down the street (300 or 400 block.) I'm guessing it was also owned by Shulman. As for the soot I'm sure it was from coal, their house was heated with coal until my grandmother sold the house in 1960.

Prince Albert

Looks like Shulman's has Prince Albert in a can... ;-) Seriously, though, it is absolutely amazing how well these Kodachrome images have held up for all these decades. Kodak's scientists came up with a magic emulsion which has never been bettered...

Southwest Washington

Southwest D.C. was probably the most destitute parts of town at the time this photo was taken. Union Street SW no longer exists because this part of town was almost completely leveled by eminent domain in the 1950s, in one of the country's first urban renewal projects.

1897 Map

Thank you so much! Click here for a closeup of the map (which is quite beautiful). Union Street is toward the bottom. Another mystery solved thanks to Anonymous Tipster.

This 1897 map of DC shows

This 1897 map of DC shows that Union St SW ran from M to O in between 4 1/2 St. (which seems to have been where 4th St. is now) and 6th St. If you look at a current map of DC, there's no trace of the former Union St. in the midst of a bunch of large buildings. If you plug in 485 Union St. SW Washington into Google Maps, though, it does show it being about where Union St. was.

Re: "Amazing How Dirty Things Were Back Then"

Really? That is a very funny statement. When I first saw the photo, I thought it could be from anyhere on the Hill or in Georgetown today. Aside from a few neighborhoods, The city really isn't much cleaner. In fact, the brick sidewalks are actually flat. Now there are so many roots pushing them up that it's difficult to walk at night without tripping.

Amazing

I love the site, especially pictures like this. The colors are so vivid, the image so clear, that it almost takes away the time barriers. I could imagine myself walking right up to those people as if they were still alive today, looking now as they did then.

As for this comment...

"Its amazing how dirty things were back then."

Come take a trip to Philadelphia; the level of filth is exactly the same in 2007.

Poster Links

Amazing. I am shocked and awed! Thank you, Anonymous Tipster!

Window Posters

Coal

Yes, lots of buildings and homes had coal furnaces in the 1940s. I would say the balance tipped in favor of oil (kerosene) heating sometime after World War II. Although I am not sure where people are seeing dirt here. The yellow paint is soiled from where people have been leaning against or touching the wall. You can see the same thing on either side of the doors in this picture.

dirt or soot?

Did US homes use coal for heating in the 40s? Britain used to be black with soot.

Window posters

Yikes. I figured they were baseball players, but you are right. They are Mussolini, Hitler and Admiral Yamamoto (see comment with poster links below). I added your observation to the caption along with a blowup of the posters. Thanks! And thank you, too, lisavc in Australia!

this site

I've only just found this site and am loving it. thank you for doing this...lisavc (from australia)

More like this one, please!

Street scenes like this one are just fascinating to me because the level of detail enables me to imagine that I'm actually walking down the street in 1942. At first glance it doesn't appear all that much different than today, but then you notice all the little details, such as the posters in the window of what I presume to be Hitler, Tojo, and Mussolini!

wonderful site

I am enjoying this site VERY much.

I, too, particularly like the color photographs because they provide a certain immediacy and timelessness. I don't THINK of 1941 as being "in color" (having been born 13 years later).

Anyway, keep up the great work. It's a pleasure to visit here.

Re: all the dirt. A couple

Re: all the dirt. A couple ideas: 1) these are pretty rough, poor places. 2) The country was at the end of a very long and difficult depression that made many people poor. Routine maintenance is one of the first things you cut back on when money's tight, and money was very tight.

I sent this site to my grandma, and she told me how they used to love playing with mud during the depression. :)

Harry Shulman

There seem to have been several Shulman's Markets in D.C. An archive search shows there was one at 1349 Sixth St. NW in 1958, in addition to the one in the picture, and one on O Street NW. Harry Shulman died in 1984. From his obituary in the Washington Post: "Harry Shulman, 85, a grocer in the Washington area from the time he moved here in 1928 until he retired in 1971, died of a liver ailment May 15 at the Washington Hospital Center. He lived in Rockville. Mr. Shulman moved to Boston from his native Lithuania in the early 1900s. When he moved here, he opened Shulman's Market, which he operated at O Street NW for 39 years before closing it in 1967. He worked for several other grocers until he retired four years later."

There are about 250 mentions of addresses on Union Street SW in the Washington Post, with the last one in 1959. The ones I found are in the 1200 block: houses at 1255 and 1271 Union St. SW, the Lincoln Market at 1212, etc. Either it got renamed or disappeared in some kind of redevelopment. (There are 51 hits for Union Street NW, with the last mention in 1990. Those may be mistaken references to Union Court NW.)

In 1908 there are a couple of ads listing merchants who would redeem Sweetheart Soap coupons. One was E. Cockrill, whose store was at 485½ N Street SW at Union.

Same Store?

Thanks for the detective work! Here is another view of the store. One thing that puzzles me (I live just outside of Washington, and work downtown) is there is not, as far as I can tell, a Union Street in the District. The street sign clearly says N and Union (the S or N in SW or NW is broken off). The street number behind the bars above the door is 485½. I notice that the windows on both the store and car have been soaped.

Same Store?

I was hoping I had a newer photo of that same store, but it appears the one I took--though similar and also on N St--is not the same one. Here they are compared.

Wow

I am really loving these pictures, especially the color ones... Its amazing how dirty things were back then. Do you think it was just the subjects the photographer was capturing, or was there less focus on public works back then?

The smiling window

Look closely at the window and you'll see two swirls at the top that appear to be eyes and grinning mouth at the bottom. It's a happy store.

 
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