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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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The Car Bar: 1925

The Car Bar: 1925

Washington, D.C., circa 1925. "Northeast Auto Exchange, H Street." My favorite kind of National Photo photo, something that might be called unintentional-slice-of-life. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Five decades later

Here's a sidelong view of that building (looking almost due east along H St.) in the late 1950s. In 1974, it would be demolished for construction of the overpass rerouting traffic over the Union Station tracks.

A strong person

Is Morris Herson, if that is indeed him in the coveralls. He looks like he could have bench pressed that car in his prime.


Isn't it interesting how my memory of Manhatten Auto could bring such results. All appreciated; good memories of Manhatten Auto on Wisconsin Avenue and of Mr. Mann who worked there. Thanks to J. Herson, as well.

This is one of the joys of Shorpy; a comment can be expanded or corrected by others. So it is often a valuable learning experience.

[Today's lesson: There's no "e" in "Manhattan." - Dave]

The Herson family

Morris was my uncle. David Herson was my father. Morris' sons were Mitchell, who became a dealer for Kaiser Frazer, and Abe, who worked with my father and later me at Manhattan Imported Cars. Abe was head of Jaguar service in the sixties and later was a Jaguar salesperson at Manhattan in Rockville.

Nathan Herson, another uncle, was the Herson of Herson's Honda, not Morris. Nathan's son Gerald is the current CEO of Herson's Honda and Mitsubishi, both in Rockville.

Hersons of Interest

Surprisingly, at least to me, the later Manhattan Auto Inc. and still-existing dealerships, were formed by a completely different Herson family: three Lithuanian brothers who emigrated circa 1914. Robert Herson (1892-1975), founder of Herson Auto Parts & Glass. David L. Herson (1896-1959), president and owner of Manhattan Auto Inc. Nathan Herson (1906-1971), president of Herson's Auto stores in Washington and Rockville.

To remember which alcohol is the drinkable kind

[A potent poison as well. - Dave]

To remember which alcohol is the drinkable kind: "Ethyl can't drink methyl."

Alcohol for Automobiles

Methanol (wood alcohol) was used as an antifreeze for the car cooling system, but it gradually boiled off and had to be replaced. There were testing devices, similar to the bulb-type battery testers, that could be used to tell when the alcohol needed to be topped off in your radiator in order to remain effective.

Eventually wood alcohol was replaced by "permanent" antifreeze, usually made with ethylene glycol. This is normally dyed fluorescent green, and is what comes to mind when we think of the term "antifreeze" today. Both types of antifreeze are poisonous.

As a big bonus, the ethylene glycol based antifreeze also facilitates the cooling function of the radiator. Those of us over a certain age will remember car radiators "boiling over" when driving in hot weather or climbing mountains. Those days are long gone, thanks in part to modern antifreeze/coolant!

Turning left.

When I was a kid, in the 60's before turn signals were common on motorcycles, we all signaled our left turns with a gesture identical to this fellow's.


The Hersons owned Manhattan Auto in Bethesda, where in the 1950s, you could go and ogle the spiffy Jaguars, Porsches, and various other future classics then go across the street to Giffords for a really classic banana split! That's why they're called "the good old days"!

And Now ...

The 'hood had a smidge more charm back in the day. If it still existed, 62 H Street NE would be somewhere under this overpass near Union Station.

View Larger Map

Coulda used these guys a couple years ago

The shift linkage of my car broke in the parking garage beneath the office building that now stands where this garage once was.

On second thought, they probably didn't carry any VW parts anyway.


See the name M. Herson in the window? Now Herson's Honda in Rockville, Maryland.

Morris Herson

I wonder if that is M. Herson in the coveralls. According to the census, Morris Herson was born in Russia and immigrated to the States in 1895.

Washington Post, Jun 4, 1929

Morris Herson, 44, is Dead.

Morris Herson, 44 years old, an automobile dealer, died at his residence at 514 F street northeast. He is survived by the widow and three children.


Methanol, or as they also called it wood alcohol or methyl alcohol, was used as an antifreeze to keep the engine coolant from cracking the block in cold weather.

[A potent poison as well. - Dave]

Well, I tried

All I get at "www.d.c.comm" is "server not found." Shucks.

One for the road

"Alcohol for Automobiles" -- I'm assuming it's engine-related, and not driver-related!

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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