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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • UNFAIR TO BABIES, 1936

Union Station: 1928

Union Station: 1928

Washington, D.C., circa 1928. "Railyard, Union Station." 4x5 inch dry plate glass negative, Harris & Ewing Collection. View full size.

 

Paying the freight

The photo could've been taken in the morning, before the commuter trains came in.

As a rule, railroads did not make money on passenger rail, even before the Depression. Freight paid the bills and generated the profits. Passenger rail was run at break-even or worse, essentially as a public service, and as a form of advertisement.

Still Waiting

Someone told me once that when "my ship comes in, I'll be waiting at the railroad station." There are so few people here seemingly waiting for trains, it is difficult to imagine how this could have been profitable for the train service. I used to love train travel and with the crappy way the airlines treat us now, I wish they would bring trains back to full scheduling and traditional convenience. Unfortunately we didn't know how well-off we were until it went away.

The More Things Change...

And we think that the long walk on the concourse to get to the airplane is a pain. At least it's inside.

Jetsonian

At first this looked almost "space-age," like something from the 1960s: clean, modern, simple lines -- perhaps a monorail terminal.

I've never been to Union Station, though, so have no concept of its actual size, color, smell to aid my perception.

Timing

Funny, just last night I was looking at the now dilapidated ornate cast iron columns that hold up the platform awnings and was wondering what they must have looked like when they were new.

Thanks.

Liberry of Congress?

I believe that's the top of the Library of Congress building sticking up over the station to the left.

Remarkable Photograph

I am also taken buy the cleanliness of the place in the days of soot and cinders.

Slow travel day?

Evidence of only one train in the whole place, although a few people are standing around as if something is going to arrive soon.

Smoke Stop

At least three times a year, I spend a half hour on one of these platforms, waiting for the Miami-to-New York Amtrak passenger train to change its engines while stretching my legs on the long trip from Yemassee SC to Philly. It's good to see it as it was. It still looks basically the same.

Wow

This isn't the first picture that has made me just say "WOW" while I sit alone in front of my computer. Love the depth of field here. You always get to see the front of Union Station with the columns, but the back is quite a sight too! Also you can see the City Post Office to the right, now home to the Postal Museum.

 
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