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Housing Boom: 1923

Housing Boom: 1923

1923. "Allied Asphalt Products Co., 4700 block of 8th St." The Joseph Shapiro Company Exhibit House at Eighth and Crittenden streets N.W. in Washington, D.C. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


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A Good Block To Grow Up In

I was raised in a similar rowhouse block in Baltimore.

Those porches brought back some on the joys of my youth and the days of stoop sitting.

During the dog days of summer the whole neighborhood would sit outside.

Cool breezes, marble steps and friendly neighbors made a humid summer night somewhat bearable.

We kids would play games of Red Line and Hide And Seek while crunching on cherry snowball or drinking a RC Cola. Our parents might be drinking a beer either out of bottles or a tin filled at the local pub with draft beer.

No theatrical visual effect could top the natural sight of the clouds above glowing with snatches of heat lightning, lightning bugs glowing their love serenade, gas lamposts flickering a warm yellow light over the entire block, a wooden match flaring to light a pipe and a streak of fire as a cigarette was flicked away to land in the gutter amid a shower of sparks.

There were always radios in the background. As you were running to hide there were sounds of baseball games (minor league Orioles and if the wind was blowing right maybe even a major league game between the Yanks and Red Sox), boxing matches (Joe Lewis or Rocky Marciano), westerns (Gunsmoke with Conrad as Matt Dillon), mysteries (Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of man? The Shadow knows!) ,horror shows (the eerie creak of a door as Inner Sanctum began). All those sounds plus the sounds of children at play, adults bidding in a pinochle game and the woofs, yips and meows of the pets combined to make a sweet music I can still hear today whenever I ride pass a rowhouse block.

Life lost a little luster when houses were no longer built with porches and AC replaced summer breezes.

Of course I am writing this as I sit in a porchless house with the AC set on 75.


What that a tiny, pointy attic up above the 2nd floor, or just a faux front?

I wish modern houses were still built that high off the ground, so basement windows could be taller. And having steps up to the front door gives it more of a grand impression.

Joseph Shapiro

Apparently, Joseph Shapiro was a very busy builder...

Washington Post, June 10, 1923

13 of 15 Houses in Row Sold Before Completion

Fifteen attractive dwellings just nearing completion and being erected by the Joseph Shapiro company at Eighth street northwest. With the exception of the two end houses, all have been disposed of from plans. Each contains six rooms and a bath, and the corner houses have built-in garages.

Washington Post, Oct 24, 1926

Real Estate Field Entry by Shapiro 7 years ago today.

Today marks the seventh anniversary of the Joseph Shapiro Co.'s entry into the real estate field. Starting in 1919 with a small office at 914 New York avenue northwest, this company opened general real estate offices, and two years later opened their building department, their first operation being a group of houses on Crittenden street between Eighth and Ninth streets northwest.

Today the company occupies the first and second floor of the Edmunds building, 919 Fifteenth street northwest, and have to their record the erection of hundreds of homes in the northeast and northwest sections of the city and a large number of apartment buildings....

Eighth & Crittenden


Brick House(s)

Those places were built to last and they have. The hills beyond have sprouted houses since then, too.

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