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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • STAY ONE JUMP AHEAD OF TROUBLE, 1945

The Old Post Office: 1907

The Old Post Office: 1907

February 1907. Washington, D.C. "Post Office." This space is now a food court in the Old Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue. In just a few years the P.O. would decamp for a bigger facility near Union Station. View full size.

 

Goodbye, Panda Express!

The tourists will soon have to find another place to stuff their faces.

The food court arrangement was operating at a huge annual loss for the city, so they've recently made an arrangement to rebuild it as the Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C.

De-lighted?

There seems to be an abundance of hanging light fixtures in this space (wagon-wheel shaped, with a large central ball, chains and 3-armed fixtures at the "spokes"), but there isn't a single light bulb to be seen! I assume they're electric because many of the "sockets" are seen to be angling downward, and seem to have a switch.

[The "wagon wheel" fixtures are gas jets, superseded or supplemented by the electric mercury-discharge lamps also seen in this view. - Dave]

What are these?

Does anyone know what these two objects are in the photo?

1) Down the middle of the photo, from the top, looks like a long light fixture leading to a large vertical wooden cylinder. What is that cylinder.

[The long structure is the inspectors' gallery. What look like lighting fixtures along the bottom are ports for viewing the area immediately below. The cylindrical structure at the end is the access to the gallery. - tterrace]

2) Hanging from the ceiling are a number of objects that look like large ceiling fans with a rope around the outer rim. A number of them have chains on them, apparently for strengthening. What are these?

Nice Lighting

I bet all that natural light made this a much more pleasant place to work than the fluorescently lit modern equivalent. Are those all gas lamp fixtures hanging from the ceiling or electric lights with the bulbs removed? If they are gas lamps, it must have been quite a sight when they were all lit.

Good opportunity to stay away

Today the Old Post Office is one of the least pleasant public spaces in Washington. Perhaps it was always so.

Write your own ghost story.

Why does the crowd stare at us as if we interrupted their ritual?

Why is everyone else dissolving?

[They moved during the time exposure]

...and what fills the misshapen human-sized bags?

[Either mail or empty mail sacks. - tterrace]

Detail spotted

Love the calendar, "Cape May Real Estate Company"; hard to come by in DC, I'd guess. And those amazing light fixtures seem to have thumb-sized gascocks. Imagine that: a giant room full of paper mail, and hundreds of open flames.

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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