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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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Free Air: 1920

Free Air: 1920

"North Capitol Tire Shop, 1919 or 1920." Approaching the camera: A two-horsepower biofuel vehicle. National Photo Company. View full size.

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Position of photographer

Here's an annotated plat from the 1919 Baist Atlas showing my best guess as to the spot from which this photo was taken.

The yellow line indicates the view down the alley, toward the horse and wagon. The structures seen at the very far end of the alley -- angling in from the right -- are accessory structures behind 52 & 54 NY Ave NW. (I couldn't quite fit that part of the map into the detail below.)

The blue line shows the line of sight past the gas pump & onto the backs of the houses fronting on NY Ave.

Also, I hope you noticed the boy's face in the door; see detail below.

Phone pole wagon wheel

The pole in the background has a telephone distribution terminal (box) where the local "drops" (wires to the houses or buildings) connect to an underground cable back to the phone exchange. The wagon wheel appliance on top was to make more room for the wires radiating out from that pole. Note that a number of drops go back to another pole where they then fan out to other locations down the block.

Making fun of horsepower

Oh sure, you make fun of horsepower now but you just wait until we're all you've got left to ride around town on/in again. Make nice with us!! The only fuel we require is some oats and hay and water, and we leave fertilizer behind.

Best regards,

Mr. Ed

Here's your electric wire, and yours, and yours...

It looks like the electric service could get complicated. Wonder what was in that transformer to keep it cool?

[Or would those be telephone wires. - Dave]

What a Great Shot

What a great shot! Love the Model T's, the brick commercial buildings, the early automobilia, etc. I'll bet those are sleeping porches on the building at the right. I wonder how many times the sleepers were awakened by clanging metal sounds at tire shop?

Snow and Slush

You can almost feel the bone chilling cold that must have been in the air. Time to go inside for some Vulcanizing (just kidding). I see it's another Texaco location. I wonder if the current site occupants know there was a gas station there once.

Look at that road ...

And I complain about the city maintenance around here.

[That's slush. Seems to be brick paving underneath. - Dave]


The hooves are pointing in the wrong direction.

[Ha ha. Now I get it. Thanks to AT for the explanation. "Treads." - Dave]

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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