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The District Line: 1942

June-July 1942. "District of Columbia and Maryland boundary line at Wisconsin Avenue in the evening." Acetate negative by Marjory Collins for the Office of War Information. View full size.

June-July 1942. "District of Columbia and Maryland boundary line at Wisconsin Avenue in the evening." Acetate negative by Marjory Collins for the Office of War Information. View full size.


On Shorpy:
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Streetcar Named Desire

A very cool looking streetcar, with a bus design aesthetic.

The District Line in Pandemic Time

Capital Transit Company

RobtS is incorrect. The photographer is standing in Maryland looking south on Wisconsin Avenue. The streetcar pictured is on the 30 route and is beginning its run back into town having just turned around at Friendship Heights. Streetcars did not continue on into Maryland here. One had to exit the streetcar and board a bus to continue traveling northward.

This streetcar would be powered by the overhead electrical system for nearly 4 miles until the pole would be lowered and a “plow” attached at Wisconsin Avenue and P Streets NW in Georgetown.

Click here for a picture of the "plow pit" where the transition occurred.

This is an often repeated, but incorrect belief that Capital Transit did not use overhead wires. In fact several lines within the District used them. The conduit system was only used in the very heart of the city.

I believe the confusion may have arisen from early descriptions of the system which referred to overhead lines in “suburban areas.” This did not mean Maryland, as it would have come to mean years later, but rather in more residential neighborhoods of the District.

As for the smokestack and water tower: they were originally part of the “Tenleytown Barn” located at Wisconsin Avenue and Harrison Streets NW.

Recent shrinkage

The boundary marker shrank between the Google Street view, posted by perpster, and the photograph provided by Lurk Peruser, of the Sheboygan Perusers. The protective poles around the marker also became bent. Something hit the marker from the sidewalk side, and I'm betting broke it.

Conduit Track Boundaries

I thought the same thing as RobtS until I contacted a friend who lives in Takoma Park and is knowledgeable about the DC streetcar system. His response: "Keep in mind the overhead wire ban only affected the old Washington city core south of Florida Avenue, east and south to the rivers, and west to Georgetown."

District line = trolley line

Maryland is on the far side of the sign. You can tell because the trolley is using overhead wire, which was banned in the District. Like Manhattan, they used an underground conduit, but unlike Manhattan the lines left the conduit area, so there were pits where the conduit plows were removed and added and then the trolley pole was raised or lowered.

A Shorty on Shorpy

Either the stone border marker has been replaced, or the sidewalk/roadway level has been built up substantially!

Beat It on Down the Line

The boundary marker is still there, but it has a different cordon. Just about everything else is gone.

Friendship Heights

No more streetcars, of course, but now the site of the Friendship Heights station on the Washington Metro.

Interestingly, "Friendship Heights" approximates "District Line", since that vaguely-defined neighborhood straddles the border, and includes the western end of Military Road to which the Shorpy photo points. However, though it borders the border, the Metro station is entirely in Maryland.

Mazza Gallerie

Those towers in the background were part of the DC Transit bus yard. Apparently, there is enough oil waste pollution under the site that leaked over to the Mazza Gallerie site that it has made it very difficult to sell.

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