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About the Photos

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 • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Four Belles: 1923

Four Belles: 1923

May 23, 1923. Washington, D.C. "Shrine relay team at Potomac bathing beach." View full size. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.

 

That's Florence Skadding

On the far left.

Another Grandma's Bob

My grandmother's hair was never cut as a child. In her teen years (the 1920s), she got a bob, put away her long skirts and sleeves, and became a flapper - to the horror of her Victorian father. She wore her hair short the rest of her life.

Grandma's Bob

My grandmother had hair down to or past her hips most of her post-adolescent life. She cut it twice ever, once when she was very old (and the trims that followed that), and wanted hair that was easier to care for, and once when she was 19, when she bobbed it. I asked, "Why did you bob your hair?"

She answered, "Because my mother expressly forbade it."

Bobbed Hair redux

On the contrary, I think bobbed hair is most attractive and prefer women with such short hair. Of course, it is all just a matter of personal taste.

Bobbed Hair

Please, dear God, don't let that bobbed hairstyle, or whatever it's called, come back into vogue. It does little for an attractive woman, and it makes the a plain woman look hideous.

Locating the Beaches

Digging around, I've been able to dig up some info about the two beaches mentioned here in these photos. The Potomac bathing beach was established in 1914 more or less at the site of the Jefferson Memorial, and lasted until 1925. It replaced an earlier beach on the opposite side of the Tidal Basin that I don't believe appears in any of these photos.

The shots marked as "Arlington Beach" (e.g. this one) were taken on the Virginia side of the river. I haven't been able to pin down the location of this one exactly, because for one thing that entire strip of the shore was drastically altered all through this period and through WW II. Arlington Beach was an amusement park that sat adjacent to the old Hoover Airport which National replaced. From what I can tell, that would put it in or next to the Pentagon north parking lot. Columbia Island was then being created from the dredging that gave East and West Potomac Park their current shape. That would put this picture just west of where the Columbia Island Marina is today.

[More on the old D.C. bathing beaches here. - Dave]

Tidal Basin

With what appears to be the Bureau of Engraving and Printing Building in the background, this photo locates the old "Potomac Bathing Beach" pretty much right where the Jefferson Memorial is today.

 
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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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