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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.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Allied Asphalt: 1923

Allied Asphalt: 1923

October 1923. Washington, D.C. "Allied Asphalt Products Co." Behind all that smelly hot tar and paving aggregate, under the compacted gravel -- a hidden world of glamour and intrigue! National Photo Company glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Bless Her Heart

My heart goes out to Little Orphan Annie. In providing us with photographic evidence of the fact that the "bad hair day" is not a modern phenomenon she also has to undergo the indignity of people still laughing at it 86 years later.

This photo also proves that there is a direct correlation for women between attractiveness and the proximity to the boss' desk. (And I'd give anything to go back 86 years and chat up the cutie doubling on the switchboard.)

A little Tar & Asphalt

Great title as usual. Once I saw a truck on the DC Beltway that said "If we didn't pave your driveway, it's your own asphalt."

Colorful Scenario

These old photographs do conjure up interesting stories from our imaginations.

Yours is particularly entertaining. Thank you for making this already-vivid photograph even more so.


The boss has an office made of surplus doors. If this is an example of their Southern Bldg accommodations, it's no wonder the company moved.

Telephone box

That big ringer was standard issue. They were all that big and metallic and LOUD. I installed one of those in a 1915 house I had (along with the candlestick phone), and it ensured that you never missed a call.

Talking on a candlestick phone sounds like you are in a submarine - the Bell Ph.D. acoustical engineers had yet to be hired.

Allied Asphalt

Sounds like one of those dubious companies that Gomez Addams was always investing in. You know, like Consolidated Lint.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Judging by the huge telephone ringer box under the desk, workers in this office suffered hearing loss early in their lives. Today OSHA would require these hapless victims to wear hearing protection.

[Maybe that explains the hair. - Dave]

Their Hair III

One of the girls has bobbed her hair - and it being so early in the 1920s has not yet had the opportunity to style it in marcel waves - probably just had it hacked off by a barber. By the end of the 1920s, she'd have the option of a permanent wave.

The other two are wearing their hair in the "earphone" (or "cootie garage") style, which fell out of favor by the mid-1920s as more and more girls took the plunge with the barber (or even the female hairstylist!) Once cloche hats were standard it was harder and harder to have stylish long hair!

Proud New Offices

Washington Post, Mar 11, 1923

Larger Offices Occupied

Asphalt Products Corporation Moves
to 919 New York Avenue.

The Allied Asphalt Products Corporation, of which Thomas J. Brown is president, last week removed their offices from the Southern building to new enlarged quarters, occupying the entire ground floor at 919 New York avenue northwest.

This corporation is regional distributor for the Keystone Manufacturing Company, York, Pa., manufacturers of asphalt shingles, waterproof paper and paint.


Graduation Day

It appears that Princess Leia is graduating tonight. That is her graduation gown, isn't it? It couldn't be a dress, because it looks unstylish, hot, and uncomfortable. Oh wait, it was the 1920s.

Is that a telephone switchboard on her desk?

That hair II

The Princess Leia twins!

Look - It's Little Orphan Annie!

All grown up!

Devil is in the details

As usual the details of an era gone by are what make this photo so special. No cubicles. Everyone sits out in the open. Two have candlestick telephones and inkwells. The others just get typewriters. (What a dreary job to type and type and never even get interrupted by a phone call). [Look a little closer. The girl on the right has not just a telephone, but an entire telephone switchboard, on her desk. - Dave]

There are paste pots by the cabinet in the corner, against the wall. Not sure what they pasted, but they apparently filed it there. Maybe it was customer addresses from invoices or letterheads. Maybe it was photos. On the wall are photos of houses they must have paved with asphalt.

And the graphics of the calendar are indeed very 1920's. And yes, you are right. We now know what Little Orphan Annie did when she grew up. She became a typist!

Tight curls and bobs

I've seen that kind of hair in a lot of early 1920s photos. Since I have that kind of hair myself I can see why. Most bobs were done by barbers and when hair of this texure is suddenly released from the weight of length and the constraints of hairpins -- this is the result! It took a while for people to figure out how to handle it when it is short.

Willie Loman ... But Even Lower

The "Company Man" at the middle desk is a study in frustration. Almost everyone else in the office is younger than he is, but he's never gotten a private office of his own. His phone is facing in the wrong direction, and not even the frizzy-haired typist will give him a good time down at Joe's speakeasy.

Meantime, he's the only economist in the whole company who's figured out that the stock market will collapse by 1929. But will the boss in the glass booth listen to a word he says, or look at his charts? No. He takes the train home to his nagging wife, who wants a new Orthophonic Victrola and a 12-cylinder Packard Cabriolet. She gives him a hard time from the minute he walks in the door, so he retreats to his den, with a bottle of bootleg hooch and a few Bix records.

The lady on the left

looks as though something has crawled up onto her head and died there.

Re: Hair

Upon first glance, I assumed it to be a fur hat.

That hair!

Get your finger out of the light socket already, young lady.

I know this has been done before, but:

Michael Scott watches over everything from his private office at the back. Sitting in front of him and slightly hung over is Meredith, with Creed telling her a surreal anecdote from his mysterious past. In the middle, Kevin is shuffling papers and trying to look busy. Off to the right, Pam gives the camera a knowing look. And at the left - whoa, waitaminute, how did Little Orphan Annie get a job at Dunder-Mifflin?!


caption ever Dave!

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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