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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 • CARNIVAL OF THE ARTS, 1937

The Inauguration: 1913

The Inauguration: 1913

March 4, 1913. "Inauguration of Woodrow Wilson as 28th President of the United States." 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.

 

100 Years On

I just visited Washington, D.C. for my first time ever and was astounded how large the Capitol is in reality. Even photos like this, with the throngs of people in front and - remarkably - allowed to stand on the roof, somehow don't do it justice. I was humbled nearly to the point of tears at the majesty of our Nation's seat of government.

I am going to now add this shot, and another one of the same event previously posted on Shorpy, to a rotating set of desktop photos that grace my monitors. Thank you, Shorpy, for finding so many wonderful photos forgotten and put away in the Library of Congress. (BTW, I went there, too, and saw the awe-inspiring dome inside the Thomas Jefferson Building, also published here on Shorpy. Sadly, they won't let you take your own photos of that dome any more. But then the one in Shorpy is so much better than I could do that it's just as well.)

Re: The Rescue

Tip of the hat to GlenJay for identifying the sculptures flanking the east staircase. I was pretty sure they hadn't been there in my lifetime and I was wondering what they were.


Washington Post, April 30, 1959.

Fulton Wars on Capitol's Indian Statue

Rep. James G. Fulton (R-Pa.) wants to make sure that the statue of the Indian that until recently stood on the Capitol steps permanently bites the dust. The white marble statue was part of a group of that was located on one of the stair blocks on the now dismantled East Front steps.

Almost since it was place there in 1853, friends of Indians have been trying to get rid of it. The grouping shows a pioneer settler wresting a tomahawk from the hand of an Indian about to scalp a woman and her child. A snarling dog looks on.

Fulton said he was approached by House Speaker Sam Rayburn (D-Tex.) about eliminating the group when the new extended East Front is unveiled in 1961. Rayburn offered encouragement, he said.

One unsuccessful effort to get rid of the Indian was made 20 years ago by Rep. Usher L. Burdick (R.-N.D.). He called the sculpture a "constant reminder of ill will toward the American Indian" and introduced a resolution to get rid of it.

The group is called "The Rescue" and was carved by Horatio Greenough in Florence, Italy.

If the Indian goes there will be the equal problem of what to do with the companion sculpture that stood on the other side of the steps. Titled "The Discovery," it shows Columbus holding aloft the globe of the World while an Indian maiden shrinks back in fear and wonder.

Silly me, I didn't know the phrase "bites the dust" pre-dated Queen.

They did things differently then

Other than the incoming and outgoing Presidents already in place while others file in, the military are sloppily breaking formation to gawk at the proceedings. That would never be tolerated at a Presidential Inauguration now. The laxest they could hope for would be parade rest.

Front door

It wasn't until 1981 that inaugurations were moved to the Capitol West Front, more impressive visually and with more room for spectators (but at greater distance).

Barely visible here, the two embarrassing sculptures (The Discovery and The Rescue) flanking the East Front entrance were removed in 1958 and more or less hidden away. The Rescue is said to be broken into pieces.

Anybody seen Wilson? He's late.

What? It's tomorrow? Aw Crap.

[There he is, with outgoing President Taft. - tterrace]

Reverse order

In so many modern events, people arrive in order of their unimportance (with the most important arriving last). For this inauguration, at least, the incoming and outgoing presidents are already there, but the crowd of citizens before the podium that would appear in this photo (http://www.shorpy.com/node/4832) is apparently being held back for a time.

 
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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