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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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Fire: 1926

Fire: 1926

Washington, D.C. "Fire at Thomas Somerville plant, July 20, 1926." 312 13th Street N.W. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

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American LaFrance

The fire truck is an American LaFrance Type 31 circa 1916. This model was made all the way through 1929 without many changes. This is D.C. Truck No. 1 as shown on the raised ladder.

What is really interesting about these models is that the driver's seat swivels with the ladder. Look behind where the fireman is standing on the truck and you see the driver's seat facing backwards. Note also the dual front tires found on the earlier of these models.

The Washington, D.C. Fire Department also had a 1922 American LaFrance Model 31 with a 75-foot spring-raised water tower (water cannon/snorkel). This was Water Tower No. 2. It served the city for more than 30 years.

I hope the water pressure doesn't change and cause the hose on the sidewalk to topple the ladder on the sidewalk.

"The Division" explained

During the Civil War, General Hooker's command was stationed in Washington, DC. The rowdy troops gave so much business to the local houses of ill repute that the entire red-light district was nicknamed "Hooker's Division" and hence led to the later practice of a prostitute being referred to as a "hooker."

[I think that's been pretty much debunked as legend. Prostitutes were called hookers well before the Civil War. - Dave]

A hot time in the old house

No. 312 Thirteenth Street had a colorful history. Washington Post article of Dec. 16, 1895 gives a glimpse into the neighborhood's earlier character.

Three Disorderly Houses Raided.

There were lively times in the "Division" last night. About 10 o’clock Officers Flathers and Kilmartin took a girl, who said her name was May Martin, out of the house of Lizzie Peterson, 1309 D street. At the First precinct station house the girl was charged with being under age. She claims that she is twenty-two years old.
An hour later the house of Alice Linden, 312 Thirteenth street, was raided by Sergt. Shilling and a squad of officers. Mrs. Linden and six women were captured. They were taken to No. 1 station house and charged with keeping a house of ill repute.

[Since "The Division" was in Northwest, this would seem to be the same address, as opposed to 312 13th Street Southeast, Southwest or Northeast. - Dave]


I may be wrong (I often am), but would guess the fire apparatus at right was probably once a horse-drawn ladder wagon, and a motor tractor was added in place of the "old" horse power.


It looks like the entire block was razed a long time ago, and the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center stands on the site now.

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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