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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE NEW ZEALAND FOREST, c. 1950

Pointers: 1926

Pointers: 1926

February 16, 1926. "Rep. John J. Boylan of New York and territory he proposed cleaning out." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

Tilt!

Obviously, the good Mr. Boylan is outraged by tipsy lampposts. "That's it, the whole block has to go!"

Stepping Stone

It seems rather impolitic that Rep. Boylan appears to be pointing towards an institution which serves struggling veterans. And just to set the record straight, the Library of Congress caption for this photo misspells the name of the honorable Mr. Boylan.


Aided by "Stepping Stone"

Former Service Men Among Those
Who Get Free Beds and Meals.

The report for the last six months of work done by the "Stepping Stone," 225 Pennsylvania avenue northwest shows that the institution, conducted by the Volunteers of America, has prepared 28,760 free meals, furnished 7,559 free beds, and distributed 1,992 garments, besides doing other helpful work.

It is paying special attention to former service men, who come to this city to get compensation. Many instances occur when the man has to wait some time and if broke, goes to this institution. A request is made by the heads for funds and clothing with which to carry on the work.

Washington Post, Aug 29, 1922

To let? Toilet A*****s?

The sign above the window of the R. F. Richardson drug store reads "Toilet A******s" and it has me wondering what letters were hidden by the tree. I know it isn't reading "Toiletries" because of the letter A. Any thoughts?

["Toilet Articles." - Dave]

Hat cleaners

One of my relatives ran a hat cleaning and blocking business in Rome NY well into the 1950s. It was a fascinating process involving steam and adjustable molds used to keep the hat's shape while it was being rehabbed.
He was the last one in town performing what was once a necessary service.

If left be...

... it'd probably be Urban Outfitters and a Gap. Could it be that the Hudson was the congressman's?

Wow!

That guy's wearing my couch!!

Service organization

That Volunteers of America sign is a great cover for a brothel.

Hat Cleaner

I find it interesting and a bit amusing that they actually had hat cleaning businesses back then.

Nice Hudson

The neighborhood can't be all that bad, not with that nice Hudson parked in front of the Arrow Shirt store.

Not so bad

I imagine color would change the taste of this shot a bit, but it seems like Boyland's sense of a slum is a bit different than people's today. Doesn't look all that bad as far as this picture goes.

[It was regarded as tacky and shabby, unsuitable for the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue leading to the Capitol. - Dave]

Improvement?

Isn't that where a 60s-era concrete monstrosity sits now? Somewhere in the vicinity, at least. I think I'd prefer the fortune tellers.

[This tract north of the Reflecting Pool has been greenspace for many years. The adjoining final stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue just before you get to the Capitol is, in effect, the weekend tourist parking lot for the National Gallery of Art. When I have out-of-town guests, this is where you'll find the Shorpymobile. - Dave]


View Larger Map

Speaking of Esthetic Sense...

Boyland's overcoat looks like it was made out of couch upholstery fabric if you look at it up close. I wonder if it was burgundy or green.

"Joints and Dumps"

Avenue "Joints and Dumps"
Flayed in House Debate

Chinese Places, Soothsayers and Indian Fortune Tellers
"Grate on my Esthetic Sense," Says Representative
Boylan, in Criticizing Zoning Law.

The ugliness of the westerly approach to the Capitol by Pennsylvania avenue was described to the House yesterday by Representative Boylan, of New York, in the course of the debate on a bill amending the zoning law.

Mr Boylan declared that "such objects of beauty" as Chinese joints, soothsayers, clairvoyants and Indian fortune tellers" do not add to the attractiveness of the Avenue. He referred to buildings in the vicinity of the Capitol grounds as "two-story dumps."

"They grate on my esthetic sense," Mr. Boylan said when Representative Blanton, of Texas, asked him if "the joints and dumps," had caused him any trouble.
...
Mr. Blanton agreed with Mr. Boylan that something ought to be done to clean up Pennsylvania avenue from the Capitol to the Potomac river.
...

Washington Post, Jan 22, 1925

Capitol Building Prospects.

...
In the meantime Representative Boylan of New York, having grown eye-weary from constant vision of the disreputable old buildings on Pennsylvania avenue which face the Botanic Garden, has introduced a bill to provide for a public park between First and Third streets on the north side of Washington's principal thoroughfare. Mr. Boylan's bill authorizes the expenditure of $1,000,000 in the acquisition of the three squares needed for the proposed park, and to cover the cost of razing the buildings now defacing the land.
...

Washington Post, Feb 17, 1926

Why clean it out?

It looks nice and respectable - not a slum or anything. Where else could you get your hat blocked and cleaned and buy some Japanese art - then stop by the druggist for some candy and cigars? And what would the Volunteers of America do? Concentrate on New York sir!

[This block was part of what used to be called the Reservation -- a district known for its crime and many houses of ill repute. - Dave]

Urban remuddling

This site is roughly where the East Wing of the Smithsonian's National Gallery of Art if located now, is it not? Admittedly, the national mall is beautiful, but I still prefer these real "downtown" storefronts and businesses. Across the Potomac river in Alexandria ack in the early 1970s, the same misguided spirit of urban renewal destroyed blocks of 18th, 19th, and early 20th century buildings around city hall...only to replace them with hideously massive "phoney-Coloney" office and retail.

[This is north of the National Gallery. These buildings were replaced by grass and trees and, down below, a tunnel carrying I-395 under the Mall. - Dave]

 
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