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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.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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G Street: 1920

G Street: 1920

Washington, D.C., circa 1920. " Standard Engraving building, 1212 G Street N.W." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

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Below is the identical view from July of 2010. As noted by RadioMattM, only one building remains from the original view. That structure, the Homer Building, stands on the corner of 13 and G Streets, NW. When it was completed in 1914 it was 4 stories high. In 1990, the construction of an additional 8 stories and footprint expansion was completed.

Re: ghosts

Yeah that does make sense. Each foot has to spend time in one spot, exposing it more. Except for cartoon characters that can rise several inches and spin in place for a few seconds before moving forward.

Why ghosts have three legs

Unless you've acquired the ability to float, your legs are not in constant motion while you're walking; one is always planted in place while the other is moving ahead, thus accounting for both your forward motion and why you don't fall on your face.


Parking a horse and wagon as in this scene is not hard at all. You back straight in to the curb and then swing the horse around so it is not standing in the street. I once drove a one horse ice wagon in case you are concerned about my qualifications. About the only thing my horse had trouble with was those storm drains at the curb. She seemed to think they were bottomless pits or something worse.

100 years of sprawl

Lots of trucks here. Most of this commerce (home furnishings, pianos, groceries) takes place in or around our vaunted strip malls and offramps today.

However, Standard's line (stat camera work, illustrations, photo finishing) would have been common in many downtowns until just recently.

Re: Car Tracks

The car tracks in both pictures look like they're in decent shape although I did find a broken joint in the rails in each. You have to look at the surface of the rails to figure out what the ride will be like on a streetcar -- the pavement sinking and breaking up around the tracks doesn't affect streetcars but adversely affects everything else on the street.

I've ridden streetcars on worse track than this many times in Toronto and Philadelphia.

Get out of Dodge

The touring car in front of the Engraving building is a 1919 or so Dodge Brothers.

It's telling-- this photo is full of relatively "cheap" cars, whereas the Shorpy posting from 11/02/2009 (the War Bond Rally) contains almost exclusively more upscale models. Is this neighborhood on the wrong side of the (street)car tracks?

One building remains.

It appears that the building on the far left corner still exists, although it may have had some added to the top of it.

View Larger Map

Parking Old Dobbin

Seeing the lone horse parked among those motor vehicles reminded of the lost art of parking a horse drawn wagon. I am old enough to remember being impressed at backing horses getting the wagon where the driver wanted. I can't imagine what skill with the reins that took.

A mix of establishments

Standard Engraving has signs all over its location here. But there are 2 musical instrument stores, a fruit store and of most interest to me the hotel and restaurant supply vendor. Dulin & Martin advertise home furnishings too. Featuring refrigerators. But were there refrigerators available in 1920? I believe these must be what we today would call iceboxes.

[A refrigerator can use either ice or electricity. Below: 1912 (ice) and 1920 (electric) refrigerator ads from the Washington Post. - Dave]

That pesky ghost pedestrian is back

Do you suppose the photographer had to keep clicking the shutter until the full exposure was achieved?

Not so much in this one, but in a few other photos it looks like one person is caught several times in succession - giving the appearance of the same shoes and legs 3 or 4 paces in a row.

A continuous shutter opening would not give that appearance.

[That is indeed how a continuous exposure of a walking person looks. There are dozens of other examples on this site. - Dave]

Droopy Music Store

I love the name of the music store in the distance - Droop's! Period ads list the store as E.F. Droop & Sons, 1300 G St. NW. They were piano sellers.

The Grafonola

The Grafonola, a console phonograph made by
Columbia Phonograph (which eventually became Columbia Records and part of CBS), was the first to incorporate the speaker inside the cabinet. Grafonola's predecessor, the Graphophone Co., made a unit that could play either cylinders or 78 RPM records. The company was RCA-Victor's largest competitor but didn't have a Nipper or an Elvis.

Clopped Out

The horses are fast vanishing. One poor old dray just waiting for the chucking of the reins.

Car tracks

It appears that even as early as 1920 that the streetcar tracks in this area were begining to need serious repairs. Should have been an interesting ride for those prone to seasickness.

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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