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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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Western Electric: 1922

Western Electric: 1922

Washington, D.C., circa 1922. "Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co." Vintage switchgear in abundance. National Photo glass negative. View full size.

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Wonder if this is the old C&P Telephone central office located at 14th & R, which is being renovated into condos. Anyone know? (You can look up the "Northern Exchange" project online to see what it should look like.)

Only Looks Like Wood

As mentioned Western Electric and the Bell System were a class act. What looks like wooden construction is mostly concrete with what appears to be a brick wall in the background. The wooden appearance is due to the wooden forms for the concrete used to construct most everything, including the ceiling and beams. Although hard to tell, I would wager the floor is smooth steel trowled concrete. With the exception of rotating stock and crates, most everything in the structures of all telephone company buildings is fire resistive to this day. In later years, even wooden furniture such as chairs, coat racks and desks were removed and replaced with metal, such as the storage racks shown.

The best standards

dictated what Western Electric produced. While indeed a monopoly, the equipment Bell companies installed worked and worked for years, and support was also from top to bottom the best.

Very tidy.

Maybe one or more of the drunken Xmas Partiers of 1925 could have worked in here.


An entire shelf full of candlestick phones -- $350 each on eBay today if in good shape. Western Electric manufactured almost everything that AT&T used, a true vertical monopoly.

Fab Font

Root 66, I have to agree with you about the Western Electric logo and font. It conveyed in a clear fashion what the firm was about and looked great!

Western Electric

Our phones well into the 1980's had a the same terrific font as the one on the boxes. I still like it. I guess if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Also, after seeing old photos of meat markets and hospitals, this is one floor that you COULD eat off of! I've never seen such a tidy storage area.

In The Workplace

Neatness counts.


More than meets the eye - Robots in disguise?

SHORPY OLD 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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