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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 • EAT MORE FISH, 1917

Union Station: 1921

Union Station: 1921

Washington, D.C. "Union Station concourse. 1921 or 1922." I count at least six people in this time exposure. View full size. National Photo glass negative.

 

Re: Empty?

The six people might actually be indicative of the exact opposite of the assumption that it was a slow day. In a low-light situation, as this picture seems to be, a long exposure would have likely been used. If the exposure is long enough, it will cause the people in the scene to disappear. The six individuals in the frame could well have been the only people standing still in a crowded station.

Here are some examples of 30- and 40-second exposures of crowds in Kyoto (fittingly looking at Cherry Blossoms). Longer exposures would cause the ghost-like images of the people to disappear entirely:

Union Station today

When you do visit DC don't expect it to look like this anymore. When the station was renovated about 15 years ago they had to bow to the all-powerful gods of retail by filling the concourse with a two-story structure devoted to shopping. Tacked on behind it, where you actually wait for a train, is a god-awful little area that evokes Greyhound bus terminals. The main waiting room also has a restaurant smack dab in the middle of it. I've always been amazed that this renovation got such plaudits for historical "reuse." At least it's not technically permanent.

[Click below for a current view. - Dave]

Union Station

Magnificent. When my family finally visits D.C. I'm going to insist on a side trip to Union Station. They truly don't build them like that any more.

Empty?

What day and time would Union Station have been so empty? Even on Sunday, trains were running. Maybe this was taken during a strike?

[It's 11:05 according to the clock. There are at least six people in this time exposure, and maybe more we can't see if they were walking fast to the gates. It could also be between trains. This is the concourse, not the waiting room. - Dave]

 
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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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