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The Swamp: 1920

The Swamp: 1920

Washington, D.C., circa 1920. "Government Printing Office, H and North Capitol Streets N.W." Affectionately known as "The Swamp." National Photo Co. glass negative. View full size.


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The vacant lots are gone

Quite a place!

In my print-production days, I'd go there quite often.

Two things always impressed me: The lobby with its plaque about the nobility of the printing trade, and the floors on some of the levels that were made of thousands of four-by-four boards arranged with the ends up to deaden sound and vibration from the presses.

I always wondered long those boards were.

The men and women working there were amazing in their knowledge of the print business, and I was lucky enough to be involved with them at the transition to computer graphics.

Looks exactly the same today ...

but with a lot more infill of modern office construction in the immediate surroundings. And no more awnings.

Renamed the Government Publishing Office in 2014, the building had a superb bookstore on the ground floor, to the left of the H Street entrance, where I spent many hours but not so many dollars browsing the various subjects and taking advantage of the incredibly low prices for some very high-quality hardcovers.

Unfortunately, the bookstore was closed permanently early this year, and one now has to rely on the website, which is not such a great experience.

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