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About the Photos

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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Capital Hotel: 1920

Capital Hotel: 1920

Washington, D.C., circa 1920. "Old Capital Hotel, 3rd and Pennsylvania N.W." When the place was torn down in 1926, the sign had changed from "Capital" to "Capitol." Originally the St. Charles Hotel, it had a colorful (at times appalling) history going back to 1813. National Photo Co. glass negative. View full size.



Has anyone like me noticed that in almost every old pic, there is a "Coca-Cola" sign?

Love that font

That druggist's signage (he no doubt did a roaring trade in rubber goods) has a beautiful Art Nouveau font - got to find it, if only for the ampersand!

Washington slept here

... refreshed by good cigars and Coca-Cola.

St. Charles Hotel

For most of its long life, this was known as the St. Charles Hotel. Jesse Holland's 2007 book "Black Men Built the Capitol" notes that ads for this hotel bragged of elaborate "slave pens" in the basement, complete with iron doors, wall rings and chains. Those pens were a convenience to owners who would come to Washington for its vibrant prewar slave trade. The hotel's notice promised that, in case of escape, its proprietor would pay the slave's full value.


Shave and a haircut, four bits.

THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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