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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 • CARNIVAL OF THE ARTS, 1937

Radiators R Us: 1920

Radiators R Us: 1920

Washington, D.C., circa 1920. "Wittstatt radiator shop, 13th Street N.W." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

Our family business!

My dad, Ralph Wainwright, was a co-owner of Wittstatt's for decades. The business was sold to a man named James Ewin when Mr. Wittstatt died, and my dad went to work there as a mechanic when he was just 16. This was when the garage was on 14th Street in the 1930's. Dad was good at what he did and Mr. Ewin made him a partner in the business. They also owned shops in Roslyn, one on Washington Blvd. in Clarendon, one in Bethesda, and one in Falls Church, in addition to the Brightwood Garage in DC. I spent a lot of time as a kid in the 50's hanging around the tanks where radiators were cleaned!

Fill in the blank

The blank space over the door is just begging for someone to finish the slogan. "Wittstatt -- Best Place in Town to Take a Leak"

Cool, Man!

Statistically, only the Ford Model Ts would have the demand for 75 radiators. Those are aftermarket replacements for 1917 models and up, sans the Ford logo.

[As noted below, the shop specialized in Emco replacement radiators for Fords. - Dave]

The darker ones in front of the door are from larger trucks. The ones at the far right look like honeycomb-style jobs-- great coolers, expensive, difficult to repair, and found mainly on high-end cars.

Deja Guangzhou

This photo reminded me of many of the businesses I saw in China when I was last there in 2000, guys assembling windows or appliances or furniture on the sidewalk outside a storefront. The most interesting were the photo-etching artists, who used a tiny hammer and chisel to reproduce Westerners' photos on small marble plaques. I had always thought those things were machine-made. In many ways China's economoy and society parallels that of ours 100 years ago.

13th Street

I was just in DC last weekend, and walked down 13th NW many times...I don't think this building exists anymore, and was likely wiped out to create the Ronald Reagan Building.

[This part of Washington was cleared in the 1920s and '30s to make way for government development in the Federal Triangle, long before the Reagan Building went up. This stretch of 13th Street no longer exists. - Dave]

Wittstatt's 2009

The company is still around but has changed its name and location. The Web site carries the Wittstatt name. It's now Virginia Auto Service, in Falls Church. They're still doing radiators!

http://www.vaautorepaircenter.com/services.nxg

Cool!

(Well, what else can you say about a display of radiators?!)

Mr. Davis and the Marines

Whatever happened to Mr. Davis, I wonder? It looks like someone tried to paint him out of the picture, literally.

I also wonder if that lone piddlin' garage bay was shared by the radiator shop and the Marine Quartermaster's Department. Those would be some pretty cramped quarters just for the radiator shop, let alone to be shared. But I don't see any other bays, not in this photo anyway.

Where the air is free

Is Whittsatt a word or a family name? Great repair shop photo. I love the stacks of identical radiators.

[Wittstatt, not Whittsatt. Edward L. Wittstatt, who had 10 more years to live. - Dave]

Wow, free air

and those radiators on the left look like Model T Ford, be nice to have those tucked away for the superannuation fund!

[The shop specialized in Emco brand replacement radiators, "guaranteed for Fords." - Dave]

 
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