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Birdman of Washington: 1915

Birdman of Washington: 1915

Washington, D.C., circa 1915. "P.K. Chaconas Co. Market." Pictured: Proprietor George Chaconas, whose grocery ("fancy fruits and vegetables") was at 924 Louisiana Avenue N.W. Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.


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My great grandfather

This is a photo of my great grandfather in front of the business that he built up from nothing. Although our times did not cross, I grew up with the family stories, seeing this picture is like getting a piece of my history. Where did you find this and do you have any others?

[This photo is part of the Harris & Ewing collection of glass negatives at the Library of Congress. There's a photo of a Chaconas delivery truck here. - Dave]

Deja view

Isn't this the same butcher shop that was proudly displaying a row of greasy old possums a couple of weeks ago?

[That was in New York. This is Washington. - Dave]

Central Market

Is this essentially part of the old Central Market?


The banner at the top center, under the overhang: we can see a partial K and a period, followed by HACONAS & CO. Where's the C?

[The left section overlaps the right. - Dave]

Trusting soul

Two cash registers, no waiting! I bet they wouldn't last two minutes out in the open street today.

What made America great!

This is a beautiful picture of a man truly proud of what he does and where he does it.

Xmas 1915

I love the Christmas greenery. (The notice by the window is promoting a Charity Ball for Monday, January 3, 1916.) When I was a small child in the mid-1950's, my grandma used to go to a butcher where you could pick out your live chicken and they would kill, clean and dress it for you. This brings back memories. He does look like a happy man, as does she.

Local Landmarks

Note the Washington Monument sticking up behind the roof.

The Source of Greatness

I fully concur with Lincoln's remarks and would like to take it a step further. Small businesses (like this one) were/are the foundation for a community's and a country's greatness. His genuine happiness was surely the result of more than commercial success. We can learn a great deal by understanding the personal stories of such gentlemen and ladies.


One would think he would stop smiling long enough to sweep that filthy sidewalk he is selling food on !!


I see a man who is so very proud of what he has built up (I would bet from nothing) since he, or maybe his parents came to the United States. The Land of Opportunity.

His wife, and fluffy bunnies, too

Is that his wife we see in the left-hand side of the frame? Also note the fresh rabbits, atop the open crates.

Oldest Greek Market

Washington Post Jul 2, 1922

P.K. Chaconas & Co., Inc.

The oldest established Greek-American firm in the Capital and probably the most prominent and successful one is the P.K. Chaconas & Company (Inc.), at Ninth and Louisiana avenue northwest.

Its officers, P.K. Chaconas, president; P.C. Nicolopoulos, vice president; Chas. Chaconas, secretary and treasurer. E.G. Nicolopoulos and P.G. Xedes, founded the business seventeen years ago, dealing in fruits, vegetables and groceries. As the commission district grew, so did the company. Their slogan reads: "Honesty in all business dealings," and it is safe to say that is quite correct.

The charter member of the firm, P.K. Chaconas, first started the business at 1440 P street northwest, near Riggs market, more than a quarter of a century back. The latter is accredited for having originated in Washington the store on wheels, more familiarly known as the huckster wagon.

The aforementioned members of Chaconas & Company are active in all Greek-American affairs in business and society.

Additional Notes:

  • Moved to pictured location ("Pickford's Old Stand") circa November 1906.
  • The location of Louisiana Ave has changed over time such that Ninth and Louisiana do not intersect on the contemporary map of Washington D.C. The location of this photo would be in what is now eastern edge of Federal Triangle - just west of the current National Archives building.
  • Top portion of Washington Monument visible in backgroud.
  • The Washington Post refers to "huckster wagons" as early as 1878
  • Earliest mention of 'Chaconas' in Washington Post archives is Aug 14, 1894: George Chaconas was fined (along with a dozen other Greeks and Italians) for lingering too long and obstructing the street with a vending push cart.
  • This block of Louisiana Avenue is just west of Center Market and seems to have accommodated an overflow of merchants and wholesalers.

1909 map from Baist's Estate Atlas

Genuinely Pleasant

How rare it is to see a sincere and guileless smile on a person's face. Such direct and genuous happiness is impossible to fake. This is a kind and happy man.

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