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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.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Exploded View: 1920s

Exploded View: 1920s

Washington, D.C., circa 1920s. "Wrecked house" is all it says on this undated (and moldy) 8x6 glass negative. Are there enough clues to fill in the blanks of this bricks-and-mortar mystery? National Photo Company. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Rumford box

It's obviously a baking powder explosion. Those are the worst. Either that, or substandard masonry with an inadequate foundation.

Room, upper left.

That's why you never lean back in your chair.

"Exploding Cigar" Factory Explodes

I'm surprised no one has made that joke!

Sorely Lacking

Turnbuckle stars!

This photo "razed" the question --

Crawlspace gin? I am curious about the narrow area with the wood piled on the barrel and the two wall-mounted bedposts. To what purpose, other than 1920 being the start of Prohibition.

[A hallway or closet? Barrels were the cardboard boxes of their day. - Dave]

I wonder how long it took

for the looting to begin. Anyone need an enema bag?

Window, bottom left

contains a ghastly apparition of a person with a bloodied face and neck, possibly dressed in a nightshirt. Or not.

[Or an ad for soap or shampoo. - Dave]

Huff and Puff

Looks like one of the cigar store customers was blowing onion rings.

601 New Jersey Ave. NW

This is the northeast corner of F Street and New Jersey Avenue NW, viewing the (former) facade on F Street.

UPDATE: A bit of sleuthing suggests that the large "M. []" at left was originally "M. LEWIS," whose name appears in a full-page May 1, 1919 Star ad listing hundreds of shopkeepers participating in a special offer for a Quaker Oats double-boiler. We can even see some of the ill-fated oats in the photo above.

FURTHER UPDATE: The collapse occurred on the morning of Oct. 16, 1919. Attached below are clippings from the Washington Times (washed-out image) and Evening Star.


The culprit left a print.


I'm guessing the person who lives just above the store was a little embarrassed with his or her enema contraption hanging on the bathroom wall for all to see.

Sic transit

It would appear that the accommodations are themselves transient.

Stuff Happens

Washington is full of these 19th century structures and every now and then a wall on one (and more rarely, the entire structure) will simply collapse. And it isn't all that unusual to see cracks of various sorts in their walls. Whether due to settlement or some flaw in the mortar used in that era I can't say.

Masonry failure--big time

Probably due to water seepage for 100 years then the weak wall gave way on a windy day. It happens. Curious what that wooden barrel is used for in the plumbing chase ?

Rooms With a View

An inducement that could be added to the Rooms Furnished sign. I am guessing a simple wall collapse. No sign of earthquake or explosion. Most of the store goods are still on the shelves, even the cans stacked on the top shelf.


If so afflicted, it's never good to reside above a cigar emporium.

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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