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Low-Rent: 1941

Low-Rent: 1941

September 1941. "Negro slum area near the U.S. Capitol, between D and C Streets off First Street S.W. Most houses have five small rooms renting for twenty dollars and fifty cents a month, with rear wood kitchen shed, cold water, outdoor privy." Medium format acetate negative by Marion Post Wolcott for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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White Box for Rent - Eighty Cents a Month

The man in the box accommodation would be considered 'low income' by those enjoying the comparative luxury of the houses.

And the Government of the USA

Just threw more and more money at the problem and the situation never improved. Any major and even minor cities are full of this ghetto area.

[Um, no. And certainly not like this. - Dave]

Man in a Box

Is he resting?

[Having a smoke and reading the newspaper. - Dave]


So many harsh and interesting details, but the one that really catches my eye is the cobbled-together pushcart / baby stroller / wheelbarrow device.

More questions than answers

I guess the $15 million President Roosevelt approved in 1938 to get rid of D.C. slums didn't help these 1941 renters. Is this what this caption means by cold water? I'm guessing these five room houses had no electricity.

And yet, we know many good intentioned low-income housing projects quickly or eventually become slums themselves. I honestly don't know the right answer.

Power of art

With no intention to go hard on the residents of the structures in the photo, I am thinking that if occupied by artists, places like this would have been "cool" to be in or visited.

Long gone

This area is now under a freeway interchange.


I lived basically right here, or within a couple of hundred feet of here, throughout 2003-4. The townhome where I lived sold just last year for $2.1 million. The neighborhood is mostly congressfolks and lobbyists/lobbying firm offices in 1890s rowhomes.

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