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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.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Weather Bureau: 1920

Weather Bureau: 1920

Washington, D.C., circa 1920. "U.S. Weather Bureau, exterior." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Open windows

So often in Shorpy photos I see buildings with wide open windows and no sign of screens. Makes me wonder how they kept flies, mosquitoes, birds and other flying critters out. Or were there not such things back then?

Bureau Building

Completed in 1886, this pile of red bricks sat on M street between 24th and 25th streets NW. When organized in 1870, the Bureau was part of the Signal Service Corps under the War Department. It was transferred to the Department of Agriculture in 1891.

The Army Corps of Engineer insignia, while similar, dates back to the 1840s and is thought to be modeled on Pershing Barracks at West Point, NY.

Gone With the Wind

James Goode's book "Capital Losses" places this building on the southwest corner of M and 24th streets NW. It was razed in 1965.

Parapet Peeve

The walls, to be pedantic, aren't crenelated, the parapets are. I actually have the distinct pleasure to use the word "crenelated" somewhat regularly in my architectural research. It's fun at cocktail parties. I particularly love any chance to whip out "oriel."

Actually neither Agriculture nor Defense

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administation (NOAA), the current successor agency of the old Weather Bureau, is now part of the Department of Commerce.

I've seen this before

When I first saw this photo it looked familiar, then it dawned on me, it's the model for the the Army Corps of Engineers logo. I went to Engineer School ar Fort Belvoir for my Army training, and back then I think the logo wasn't as stylized as it is now.

Agriculture or Defence

I am intrigued to see that the US Weather Bureau is part of the Department of Agriculture whereas in the UK, the Meteorological Office is part of the Ministry of Defence. I wonder what that tells us about the two countries' attitude towards the weather?

You sure it's for weather?

With all the "mad scientist" on the roof, it looks like Frankenstein should live there!

Mark I Eyeball

I sometimes wonder if weather prediction would improve if meteorologists occasionally climbed up on the roof and actually looked around. Probably not many observation platforms like those in the picture any more.

Weather Observers

Boys and maps by the entrance.


Crenelated walls. Say it with me: "crenelated." Come on, how often do you get to use the word "crenelated"?

Katrina was staged!

So this is where the Government started to learn how to control the weather.

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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