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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 • THE TOY DEPARTMENT, 1913

This Little Piggy: 1935

This Little Piggy: 1935

Washington, D.C., circa 1935. "Shopping at Center Market." Perusing the original whole foods. Acetate negative by Theodor Horydczak. View full size.

 

Fine dining

Well, I don't know where my grandma found these whole pigs. But my mom would eat the brains, Uncle John would pop the eyeballs, and my other two uncles would devour the rest of the head. I would quietly walk outside and puke.

Brother, can you spare a food court?

Today, the act of food purchase, preparation, and consumption is often consolidated into one transaction, like what happens when you buy lunch from a "food court." Coincidentally, there are a number of modern food courts within walking distance of the old Center Market location. Note however, that many of the food court vendors buy their inputs from the wholesalers located just off New York Avenue, in the warehouse district northeast of Union Station. The wholesalers' presentation of goods, from which most of us are mercifully spared, is not too different from what you see here.

The lady

I would guess would have been born about 1860. She probably thinks this meat market is a modern time saver compared to the process of butchering your own hog as she may have done growing up.

Ewwwww

I am not a big fan of pork but if it comes in a cellophane and styrofoam package, I will eat some. But I can't eat anything that still has eyes, mouth, and legs, etc.!!!

Suckling Pig!

If I remember correctly from what I've read, you would have to dip the piglet in boiling water and scrub the hair off before dressing and roasting. Hm, maybe some nice eggs for dinner would be better.

A Tough Old Bird

Did anybody else notice (may need to view full size) the striking similarity between the texture of the hand of the lady assessing the pigs and that of the turkey feet?

Hair in the Food

This picture reminds me of my habit, custom and practice of not eating anything still sporting a full set of eyelashes.

A Cleaner, Slimmer Pig

Can't help but notice that the porker being fondled is cleaner and slimmer than the other one. Are they trying to tell us something? Also, ya'all can eat whatever you like but meat is good food, supplies us with iron, vitamin B complexes, necessary red blood cells, minerals and appetite satisfaction. The feline family requires meat to stay alive and will die without it. And the lady better watch out she doesn't get chicken or pig blood stains on her fur-collared leather coat. JFYI, my sister was born anemic and sickly, the old doc put her on "beef stock" and she grew healthy. My brother had a low blood count as a child and the same doc prescribed lots of rare beef and bro became captain of the varsity football team in highschool and college...I think of meat as an ally. I also eat plants and sweets and everything else and have the body to prove it. Buen appetit!

Poultry has changed

Compare the svelte leggy birds in the picture to modern birds also for sale today in markets. They hardly seem to be the same species. Hm. Also true of humans!

Imagine a customer touching meat in a display today!

Location, location, location

This is almost directly across the street from the National Museum of Natural History. What's amazing is trucks loaded with carcasses a block from the National Mall. I work right around here, and it's much harder to find a decent lunch today.

They're serious!

In this day and age of "casual dining" and a multitude of prepared foods available for any taste, it's easy to forget how seriously the average American took their food supply back in the day. Just look at those dour faces. Of course, if you were confronted with naked chickens and pigs, along with the associated smells, maybe you'd look dour, too. It must have been worse when folks had to hunt down and/or slaughter their own dinners on a daily basis. Great Shorpy click in time!

And Sidemeat Too

In the case to the left of the piglets. Unlike fanhead, this pic makes me hungry!!

What E.B. White didn't write

What really happened to Wilbur after the fair.

Yes sweetheart..

the piggies are fine, they're just taking a nap. Let's go look at the nice veggies now.

Beautiful piglets & chickens

Come on, fanhead, you should know that when you eat chicken or pork, you're eating a bird or a pig. Those are delicious looking. What should make you turn vegetarian and join PETA are things like McNuggets. Those are disgusting.

Somewhere around WWII, Americans went from "eating like champs," to borrow a phrase from Tony Bourdain, to being a bunch of squeamish little children who don't want their meat to resemble anything that was once alive, and we're worse off for it.

Headwear

What are the pigs wearing on their heads? It looks like slits have been made in their skin to form three straps along the snout and to between their ears, and then their tongue or liver or a great big leech has been inserted into those straps, proudly displayed to the buyer. Can anyone explain this?

[Pig-tongue. - Dave]

Why the Disguise?

The vendor is incognito, wearing his Groucho Marx glasses.I wonder if the pigs are on the lam(b)

Shorpy changed my life.

I've been a red blooded meat eating American male for 60 years but after seeing this photo I'm going vegetarian first thing Monday, and joining PETA. Or not.

 
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