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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • ROSES BY VINCENT VAN GOGH, 1890

Hotel Harrington: 1917

Hotel Harrington: 1917

Washington, D.C., circa 1917. "Hotel Harrington, 11th and E Sts. N.W." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

Shave and a Haircut

Between 1973 to 1976 I worked for United Press International at the National Press Building about 3 blocks from the Harrington. There was a barbershop on the ground level where I used to go for a haircut and a shave. That was my treat to myself on the odd occasion. Always loved the hot towels on the face and the feel of a really good shave. Sure can't get that anymore at a barbershop.

TeeVee at the Top

The penthouse of the Hotel Harrington was home to Washington's first TV station, W3XWT, which took the air in 1945 under the guidance of Dr. Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. of Du Mont Labs. Dr. Goldsmith would be rewarded by the use of his initials for the station's final call sign, WTTG-TV.

Short clip about the birth of the capital's first TV station:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyA0Cod-r9k

Also Gone

Also gone from the neighborhood, to the left of the hotel, is Judd & Detweiler, printers, where they used to make National Geographic.

Fresh air fiends?

The trees don't have leaves and the pedestrians are wearing overcoats, giving the impression of winter. Yet there are numerous open windows in these buildings.

[It's what you do when your room is overheated. -Dave]

June, 1977

I stayed here in June of 1977 with 200 other "Junior Safety Patrol" 12 year olds. We arrived on about seven Trailways buses for a one week stay and the hotel has probably never been the same since.

I remember our group getting some very ugly looks from the folks who were staying there and I'm sure we deserved it. One memorable incident involved a wino getting pelted with wet toilet paper from a 5th floor window and the D.C. Police going door to door, trying to locate the culprits.

Our Honeymoon Hotel 40 Years Ago

Kathleen and I stayed here on our honeymoon in 1973. The Pink Elephant Lounge was still there, though we never ventured inside. (It's since been replaced by the Hemingwayesque Harry's Bar.) The Harrington made it possible for a young couple without a lot of money to have a honeymoon in the nation's capital. And the fresh blueberries in the cafeteria were wonderful!

P.S. We're still happily married.

Harrington Minutiae

Interesting to note that there's still a fire hydrant-- same location-- on the southwest corner across the street from the hotel. Similarly, the "modern" pay phone on the east side appears in the same spot as the police call box in the 1917 image.

Still a great place

I took the family there a couple of years ago to see the Washington sights. It shows its age in many places, but is still a great hotel bargain within walking distance of all the monuments and museums. It has an incredible spiral staircase fire escape inside as well.

Still there and with the same name!

[Ironically not still there: The Perpetual Building Association building. - Dave]


View Larger Map

Home of the Pink Elephant Room

Spent many a night there in the early 1960s as an Air Force officer on TDY. The first floor bar was called the "Pink Elephant Room" and it was said that if you were an Air Force officer and walked in for a drink at least one person you knew would be there. Per diem then was $16 a day. A room at the Harrington was $11, breakfast in the basement cafeteria was six bits, and you loaded up at lunch in the Pentagon cafeteria. That left enough for a shot of really vile bar scotch in the PEO. Then off to bed, on the top floor just under the elevator motors.

 
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