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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.


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