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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • VINTAGE ALASKA, c. 1920s

Railroad Avenue: 1925

Railroad Avenue: 1925

        First posted here 10 years ago, and now updated with a better-quality image.

1925. Washington, D.C. "Texas Co., Minute Service Station No. 8, Twining City." Pennsylvania Avenue at Railroad Avenue S.E. near the Sousa Bridge. 8x10 inch glass negative, National Photo Company Collection. View full size.

 

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Early Amoco Gas Station?

This station is selling Standard Oil of Indiana (Amoco in later days, which came from the gas brand listed on top of the far right pump). I think whoever took the picture thought it was The Texas Company (Texaco in later days) but the Standard pump globes give it away. Minute must have been a franchisee for Amoco!

[This picture was taken for the Texas Company -- Texaco was a National Photo client and commissioned dozens of these photos. - Dave]

My old stomping ground!!

Stephenson Pie Bakery was an every-Sunday event in my family. We would go to church at St. Francis on Pennsylvania Avenue and head right to the Bakery -- the best in all of Washington D.C. Yep, Black and White checker boarddesign on the floor, too.

The display was huge, the entire width of the store. People lined up and waited, but unlike today, talked and laughed and just looked forward to getting their goodies, and didn't care about rushing. Their pies are like no other I have ever had since it was taken down.

My memory is that it was to the right of the bridge as you started over. Even on Sunday there was always a traffic jam because of the people waiting to get into the lot. I did find several huge napkins on eBay that were from Stephenson Pie Bakery and they even have the phone number on them and the checkerboard design. I sure would love to find a picture of that old bakery.

To think, my uncles used to sell Christmas trees right up the street from the above photo!! At the parking lot where the old Highland Theatre used to be. Every Christmas they were out there and almost froze to death selling those trees, but they loved it, and so did those that came back year after year.

Suggested location

Given the acute angle at which Pennsylvania and Railroad avenues met, this seems to me more likely to be a short distance west of that intersection. The street in the foreground appears to be 22nd, as it approaches Ellicott Circle/Pennsylvania Avenue, while the street at left is almost certainly Railroad Avenue as it dead-ends.

Based on the 1921 Baist atlas, my best guess is that the camera is facing west along Railroad Avenue as marked with the blue line below.

Congress Heights

I lived in Congress Heights also. Graduate of Anacostia in 1957. Lived on Brandywine Street down near Atlantic and later on Oakwood. Worked at the Congress Theatre while in school. Small world.

Stevenson's or Stephenson's?

Either way I remember them from the late 1950s. I lived up the hill in Congress Heights and once a month we would stop by and get the big box (I remember it as being 500 cookies but not sure if that is accurate or a little kid's wishful thinking) of their cookies. Have never run across any cookies that were so heavenly since then, sort of a "tea cookie" I believe.

[The name was Stephenson Pie Bakery. - Dave]

Pies to Go

I am not old enough to remember this gas station, but years later directly across Pennsylvania Avenue was Stevenson's Pies. They came in a black and white checkerboard box, best pies in D.C. Saturdays there was always a traffic jam trying to get into the parking lot to stock up on pies for Sunday. Wish they had a picture of that.

New Filling Station Added

Washington Post, June 28, 1925

New Filling Station Added

Store Number 8 of Minute Service Stations Opens Today

The Minute Service Stations operating a chain of filling stations and accessories stores throughout Washington, announce the opening of their newest plant, at the intersection of Pennsylvania avenue and Railroad avenue, southeast, at the south end of the Pennsylvania avenue bridge.

The opening of this station marks the advent of the Minute Service stations into Southeast Washington. The new station will be known as No. 8.

The station is exceptionally well planned with very wide driveways, numerous visible pumps, air towers, drainage pits and other modern equipment.

Twining City

The intersection of Railroad and Pennsylvania avenues was in the neighborhood of Twining just across the Sousa Bridge over the Anacostia River in the 1907-ish map below. It seems Railroad is about where Fairlawn Ave SE is today (all the other streets in the old map line up pretty well to today's view) with several gas stations still on the corners.

[Oh thank you. I knew "Turnning" couldn't be right. - Dave]

Streets

In sorry shape, yes, and unless I'm mistaken about that pile in the middle, apparently still used by the occasional horse despite the convenient availability of gasoline.

Gas Bar

Selling multiple brands of gasoline was much more common in the early days. Other countries still use the "gas bar" concept. The streets were in sorry shape in 1920's Washington.

4 or More Flivvers

Looks like at least four of the autos here are Model T Fords, which would be as expected given their prominence on the road in the mid-'20's. While it's easy to love the architecture seen here, with those great old Victorian survivors, the street was a mess, and the mass of phone poles unaesthetic as well. Note the broken light pole globe, I wonder if that was the work of vandals?

[It's not really broken. It's just missing. - Dave]

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