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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Busy Corner: 1934

The Busy Corner: 1934

Washington, D.C., circa 1934. "Kann's Department Store." Pennsylvania Avenue at Eighth Street. National Photo Co. Collection glass negative. View full size.

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The night it burned

I was working at DC Fire Department the night it burned.

It started in the rear on the 8th. street side to the left of the picture. When we went in there was heavy smoke in the rear on the third floor. We tried pulling the hanging ceiling and found another ceiling of plaster and lathes, we pulled that ceiling and found another of ornamental tin, the fire was in the ceilings and there were three ceilings as the building had one placed over the other each time it was renovated. It was impossible to pull the 3 ceilings fast enough to keep ahead of the fire , and we merely chased it down the 8th. st,as it gained momentum to the Market Space side , then to the 7th. st side where it finally was put out with massive amounts of water. The building was actually many buildings all hooked together over the years. Much of the building could have been saved it was not destroyed, but I suppose it was monetarily unfeasible since it was closed anyway. I have heard the facade was saved, but I have no idea what they did with it.

My mother's favorite place to shop, we always waited for her to finish her shopping at 4 o'clock and meet her on the Market Space entrance.I always enjoyed going to Kann's at Christmas for their toy train layout, and seeing their mechanical people in the Busy Corner , corner.


This is one of those magical images that make me feel (and wish!) I could just step into the photo, and stroll that sidewalk. I can almost hear the street sounds.

A sad end

I remember the end of Kahn's. In the 1960's the entire block of buildings had been encased in a modern slipcover blotting out the original facades. In the late 1970's the long empty building caught fire, probably arson. As the building was razed and the blackened and melted facade was removed the "Busy Corner" sign was revealed, still intact.

A couple of brand-new Fords

Two brand-new 1933 or 34 Ford sedans (or a sedan and a Victoria) parked in the row to the right.

I remember Kann's in the 1970s

The neighborhood had gone to seed and they slapped some hideous aluminum facade on the building to make it look contemporary. Then it burned down in a suspicious fire. Shame they couldn't save it like they did the Hotel Washington.

A Mammoth Establishment

Washington Post, Oct 25, 1911

Kann Store 18 Years Old.

From Modest Beginning, Firm Has Grown
to Mammoth Establishment.

Eighteen years ago this month a small store was opened on Pennsylvania avenue, near Eighth street, by the firm of S. Kann, Sons & Co. Today that store is housed in a large building that covers nearly the whole of the square between Pennsylvania avenue and D street, and Seventh and Eighth streets northwest. This week the firm celebrates its eighteenth birthday.
S. Kann, Sons & Co has faithfully adhered to its maxim, early adopted," Always the Best of Everything for the Least Money." as is illustrated by the present "Birthday Sale." Its conscientious dealing with the public, and great care to satisfy the patrons have caused the growth of the enterprise until the three-story building of the beginning has been swallowed up in its mammoth one of today.

Everyone of the 49 departments of the store, it is said, has striven to outdo all former records in value-giving for this sale, and the well-equipped delivery department with its ten automobiles and fifteen large wagons will no doubt feel the endeavor has been crowned with success.

Kann's monkeys!

I remember Kann's. There was also one in Arlington (where the GMU Law School is located now). I was fascinated as a kid with the glassed-in display with REAL MONKEYS.

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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