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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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Radio Radio: 1924

Radio Radio: 1924

Washington, D.C., 1924. "Interstate Commerce Commission building." Two doors down from the Jazz Age equivalent of the Apple Store. Note police call box with Bat Signal globe. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

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Southern Hemisphere

@MrK - I considered that. You may be right, of course, but the reflection in question is fairly consistent from left-to-right and all the way to the bottom of the sphere, which would suggest that the ivy would run right up to the call box (which doesn't seem to be the case, given the visible sidewalk) and along a good-sized length of the street (not to mention *into* the street). Perhaps the reflection in the lower right is lightened or otherwise affected by the ivy, but to me, the rather abrupt loss of detail just south of the "equator" still suggests crusted dirt or blemishes on the globe's surface.

As for unintended reflections, they are a particular favorite of mine: see also

Reflections...of Ivy

Splunge...I noted your unequal zoomed in photo of the globe. Might I suggest that the globe is indeed shiny and the lower part of the globe isn't scratched, but is reflecting the ivy or other plants in the lower right hand corner of the original view of the photo?

Still, the zoomed view provides a glimpse into the past that I would bet my life the original photographer never imagined we today would be focusing in and looking behind the field of view of the camera.

Call Box?? Revisited

Thanks to Larmo for pointing out the obvious features of the opposite box. The site following has a history of D.C. alarm boxes. They don't show back to back, but it is interesting.

Dueling Signal Boxes

At first I thought that the 12 years between pictures might account for the style difference, but then I came across Anton Michael's photos of modern Washington D.C. with side-by-side surviving call boxes across from Lafayette Square at Jackson Place and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Two boxes

The picture (used with permission) shows the back side of the fire call box with its locked door that was accessible only to the Fire Chief. Inside this half of the box was a telegraph key and receiver that could send an order for a second alarm.

Gas lamps were originally on top of the poles as seen below, but these were eventually replaced by the globes which, in turn, were replaced by the less vandal-tempting caged lights mounted on shortened poles.

Gaslight call box

A brief history of the Washington D.C. call boxes can be found here.

Back to back?

Charlie B: I think you and tterrace may both be right.

San Francisco still has similar call box arrangements with back-to-back boxes for both police AND fire departments. Given the depth of the box(es) in this photo I think that'w what's going on here.

Check out the attached photo, albeit without the bracket and all-seeing eye orb.

Tandem Fire/Police Alarm Box

I'm pretty sure the alarm box pedestal is a tandem fire and police emergency alarm box. The side facing the camera is a classic Gamewell design with the glass covered dog house door handle to gain access to the inner alarm pull handle. On the other side the roof and the door hinges are visible for an identical alarm box. I believe one box is painted red, the other blue with each respective box sending its signal to the appropriate agency. A call box with a phone normally would not have the glass covered dog house, but instead have a simple keyed door.

Call Box??

By the handle on front, I would say this is for fire call. Police call boxes I have seen have a plainer, near flat tront door. I wonder if the globe was lit at night with the street lights.

[We've seen these before; it's a police call box. - tterrace]

The police box in your cite is a different shape. With the obvious large handle on the front and the peaked roof design I will still believe it is a alarm box for citizens to report a fire.


The base of the "Bat Signal" seems to be scratched up or dirty, but most of the globe is quite reflective. It shows us the buildings across the street (behind the camera), as well as possibly a glimpse of the photographer (or maybe just the top of the photographic equipment). If only the entire globe was shiny...

Call him Fuzzy

The Ghost in the middle was probably running to escape the Mold eating the near side of the street.

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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