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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Union Station: 1921

Union Station: 1921

Washington, D.C. "Union Station concourse. 1921 or 1922." I count at least six people in this time exposure. View full size. National Photo glass negative.

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Re: Empty?

The six people might actually be indicative of the exact opposite of the assumption that it was a slow day. In a low-light situation, as this picture seems to be, a long exposure would have likely been used. If the exposure is long enough, it will cause the people in the scene to disappear. The six individuals in the frame could well have been the only people standing still in a crowded station.

Here are some examples of 30- and 40-second exposures of crowds in Kyoto (fittingly looking at Cherry Blossoms). Longer exposures would cause the ghost-like images of the people to disappear entirely:

Union Station today

When you do visit DC don't expect it to look like this anymore. When the station was renovated about 15 years ago they had to bow to the all-powerful gods of retail by filling the concourse with a two-story structure devoted to shopping. Tacked on behind it, where you actually wait for a train, is a god-awful little area that evokes Greyhound bus terminals. The main waiting room also has a restaurant smack dab in the middle of it. I've always been amazed that this renovation got such plaudits for historical "reuse." At least it's not technically permanent.

[Click below for a current view. - Dave]

Union Station

Magnificent. When my family finally visits D.C. I'm going to insist on a side trip to Union Station. They truly don't build them like that any more.


What day and time would Union Station have been so empty? Even on Sunday, trains were running. Maybe this was taken during a strike?

[It's 11:05 according to the clock. There are at least six people in this time exposure, and maybe more we can't see if they were walking fast to the gates. It could also be between trains. This is the concourse, not the waiting room. - Dave]

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