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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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Sunshine Laundry: 1920

Sunshine Laundry: 1920

Washington circa 1920. "Sunshine Laundry." The new plant of the Arcade Laundry and Sunshine Dry Cleaning and Dyeing Co. on Lamont Street N.W. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
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A matter of Scale

A question for photo experts: Why do these old photographs convey a much larger sense of scale than their modern-day equivalent? For example, when you look at Google street view of the Sunshine Laundry, the environment seems much smaller and more congested than the 1920 photo. I've noticed this with real life in-person comparisons as well; the first time I visited the Golden Gate bridge it seemed much smaller than in all the photos I had seen. Why?

Outside the Plant

"We want you to see and inspect the plant." Thus saith management, but if those invited housewives showed up, they might have had a few words to say about the plant yard.

[The plant hasn't opened yet -- it's still under construction. - Dave]

I must say that, as much as I appreciate the various landmarks of classical D.C. architecture Shorpy shows us, these old industrial buildings and plants are a special treat.

No Injurious Wringers

Seeing Is Believing

Every Washington housewife is invited to inspect
the cleanest, largest, and sunniest and most scientific
establishment for laundrying, cleaning and dyeing
clothes in America - right in our own city.

The Arcade Laundry and
Sunshine Dry Cleaning & Dyeing Co. Inc.

The Arcade Laundry and Sunshine Dry Cleaning & Dyeing Co., is such an institution, the largest of its line in the city and one of the largest in America.
We want you to see and inspect the plant. We want you to see for yourself the mammoth tanks where 55,000 gallons of water are softened each day, so that every lot of clothes is washed without rubbing in 700 gallons of water as soft as rain water, with seven changes of water to each lot.

You will be interested in the Mending Department, where all minor repairs are made without extra charge; the Individual Net Bags, where Handkerchiefs, Fine Waists, and Fancy Linens are protected; the Collar Ironers where even the edges are ironed, eliminating all roughness, the Clothes Extractors, which have replaced the injurious wringers.
You will see the finest of Silk Shirts, Dainty and Lacey Underwear being carefully Ironed by Electric Hand Irons.
In the Department of Dry Cleaning we will show you the plant for Naphtha Distilling, removing all grease and oil from naphtha and gasoline before being used. You will see the Spotting Department, where all spots are removed by experts, each spot requiring different treatment, so as not to injure the fabric.
The Special Room for Dyeing is always of interest. Here Outer Apparel of all kinds is dyed by our Guaranteed Process, without injury, even Rugs and Carpets, where colors are faded, can be made to look like new by a change in shade.

A feature of the Dyeing Department is made of a Special Emergency 24-Hour Mourning Service. Families or individuals needing such service will have our undivided attention with every facility of this department at their disposal to prevent disappointment.

Advertisement, Washington Post, Nov 20, 1921


Those buildings are now the corporate headquarters of a commercial linen service called Linens of the Week.

Eternal Sunshine.

Much to my surprise, the building is still there, and still looking pretty much the same.

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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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