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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 • ABOUT PARIS, 1895

Kingdom of Youth: 1918

Kingdom of Youth: 1918

Washington movie houses circa 1918. "Crandall's Theater, 9th & E Streets N.W." Now playing: Madge Kennedy and Tom Moore in "The Kingdom of Youth." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

An early 80s ghost

This building lingered into the early 80s, though it was barely recognizable by then:

The upper floors were sheared off in 1961, and a series of low-rent tenants moved in. One of the last was an adult book store / peep show.

Roof Tanks

Several years ago I worked in a nine-story warehouse built in 1899. It still had a large water tank on the roof that was for the fire sprinkler system. The tank was filled by huge pumps in the basement. Due to the historic preservation laws here in Portland, Oregon, the tank had to be maintained, but not filled with water. The original pipes and pumps were disconnected. The fire system had been upgraded in the late 1950's to a newer system and most of the old copper pipes were left in place. When the building was converted to condos a couple of years ago,they pulled out all of the old pipes and left the tank on the roof.

Heads Up!

Note the rooftop water tank above the Lansburgh & Bro sign. The penthouse of that building is devoted to that huge water bucket. I presume these would be filled with rainwater at no cost and supply buildings with non potable industrial water supplies.

[Interesting theory -- but how would you fill a cistern on top of a building with rainwater? (Verrry slowly.) This water tank on top of the Lansburgh department store is either regular drinking water or a standpipe tank for firefighting. Back in the day, most buildings taller than six or seven stories had penthouse water tanks, and they're still a familiar sight on older apartment buildings in big cities like New York. A lot of modern office towers have them too, although they're usually concealed. - Dave]

Harry's Joy

Lots of entries in the index of Robert K. Headley's Motion Picture Exhibition in Washington, D.C. for Harry Crandall, who opened his first theater, the Casino, in 1907.

Shorpy's image is reproduced on p. 38 of Headley and identifies it as the Joy Theater (opened in 1913, "usually simply called Crandall's"); the caption also notes Tom Moore's "massive" Garden Theater to the right in the image, down 9th Street.

The Joy was Harry Crandall's springboard to the top of the Washington movie ladder. He spent $25,000 to build the Joy in what had been a four-story building that housed a haberdashery.... The floor was red concrete and sloped to the front... so that it could be flooded every night after the theater closed; it was believed that a complete flooding would keep the theater absolutely sanitary.

Seating about 450, the Joy was in operation only until 1924, when it was converted back into retail space.

Haunting View

I love the Gothic Revival upper windows of Crandall's Theater. Those mysterious arches and curves are very intriguing.

Movie Palaces and Dental Parlors

Noticing the dentist between the movie theaters, remember that one of the greatest silent films, "Greed," is the story of a dentist -- who, like Washington's Dr. Fitzgerald, called his office a "dental parlor." It would be interesting to know if "Greed" played in either of these downtown theaters in 1924.

Let's All Go to the Dentist

After heading to the lobby to grab yourself a few snacks, make sure to check out the dentist located smack dab in the middle of all the fun. I guess if you were a dentist in 1918, you had to get your business somehow. But they don't need to worry, with "SODA" proudly displayed below the dentist's office, they'll be back.

[Right next to "Dikeman's Orange Beverage." - Dave]

Black streetlight

What is this object? Looks like a blacked-out streetlamp...

[A fire alarm call box. The globes on these were usually red. - Dave]

Madge & Tom

The stars of this early silent drama both had extraordinarily long careers in the business lasting into the television era. Madge Kennedy actually appears in an episode of "The Odd Couple" from 1972!

How do we know that Irish-born actor Tom Moore owned that DC theater?

[Good question. Theater impresario Tom Moore and actor Tom Moore seem to have been two different people, so I zapped that from the caption. - Dave]

Madge Kennedy

How exciting to see!!!!! I was friends with Madge a few years ago!!!!!

[Madge died 21 years ago at age 96. She played Aunt Martha on "Leave It to Beaver." - Dave]

Fantastic Photo

The building, signs, soldiers and cars all add up to a great shot for browsing.

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
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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