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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • BUY WAR SAVINGS STAMPS, c. 1918

The Apartment: 1935

The Apartment: 1935

July 1935. "Kitchen of an apartment available for rent in the District of Columbia." One of hundreds of photographs taken by Carl Mydans to document housing conditions in the poorer sections of Washington, D.C., during the Depression. 35mm nitrate negative for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.

 

Prolific Carpenters?

It seems everyone recognizes that hutch-like cabinet. My Grand-mama had it's twin in her Brooklyn, NY, Brownstone walk-up through the 50's. The stove had been up-graded to white porcelain by then, but many a turkey and pie sat on the sturdy shelf.

NYC

I lived in a basement apartment in Greenwich Village until 1996. Same sink, much worse cabinetry, slightly better gas stove, linoleum flooring (like the one pictured), only, no windows. Paid $900 a month, and considered myself lucky.

Looks good to me

I'm sure the photographer took this shot to illustrate bad housing conditions, but a sink and cabinet almost exactly like that were one of the main selling points for me when I bought my house three years ago -- and I plan to put in a similar linoleum floor.

POV

In most of the world today this would be a very luxurious kitchen.

Speaking of hazards

Newspapers piled atop the burners is a nice touch.

Kitchen archeology

My NJ apartment in the 1990s looked just like this, too, without the old stove, which was to the distant right of the sink, the whole room being only 4 and half feet wide and 11 feet long. One section of wooden cabinets had been removed to make room for a refrigerator, with a single outlet, and along the wall facing the sink was another, single outlet. Made making toast and coffee at the same time impossible. Not a problem in the 1920's, when mine was built, either, since both would likely have used a stove in that era. The countertop had at least ten layers of oilcloth, wallpaper, contact paper and a top layer of thin plastic that I had to remove at one point before painting it all white. Thought I was being "Modern" - but I guess not!

Clearance issues

Unless it is the focal length playing tricks on me, it would be hazardous to approach the sink while the left burner is on.

[Check the floor. There are four and a half diamonds of space between stove and sink. - Dave]

APARTMENT FOR RENT

Adorable D.C. studio apt available downtown. Amenities include charming turn-of-century hardware, gas stove, spacious enamel sink. Quaint period flooring lends provenance to this cozy historic prize. Such potential! 2500/mth, utilities not included. No pets.

For Real?

That kitchen in Dupont Circle is considered charming and the apartment goes for $3,500 a month.

Common bond

It's funny to think that many people in American cities have lived in just such an apartment, even to this day. The place is probably 40 years old in this photo. I've lived in three just like it.

Dwelling in the past

My apartment in the Bronx (1990s) had a built-in just like this. Maybe a little less lopsided than this one, though.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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