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Fire: 1926

Washington, D.C. "Fire at Thomas Somerville plant, July 20, 1926." 312 13th Street N.W. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C. "Fire at Thomas Somerville plant, July 20, 1926." 312 13th Street N.W. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


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American LaFrance

The fire truck is an American LaFrance Type 31 circa 1916. This model was made all the way through 1929 without many changes. This is D.C. Truck No. 1 as shown on the raised ladder.

What is really interesting about these models is that the driver's seat swivels with the ladder. Look behind where the fireman is standing on the truck and you see the driver's seat facing backwards. Note also the dual front tires found on the earlier of these models.

The Washington, D.C. Fire Department also had a 1922 American LaFrance Model 31 with a 75-foot spring-raised water tower (water cannon/snorkel). This was Water Tower No. 2. It served the city for more than 30 years.

I hope the water pressure doesn't change and cause the hose on the sidewalk to topple the ladder on the sidewalk.

"The Division" explained

During the Civil War, General Hooker's command was stationed in Washington, DC. The rowdy troops gave so much business to the local houses of ill repute that the entire red-light district was nicknamed "Hooker's Division" and hence led to the later practice of a prostitute being referred to as a "hooker."

[I think that's been pretty much debunked as legend. Prostitutes were called hookers well before the Civil War. - Dave]

A hot time in the old house

No. 312 Thirteenth Street had a colorful history. Washington Post article of Dec. 16, 1895 gives a glimpse into the neighborhood's earlier character.

Three Disorderly Houses Raided.

There were lively times in the "Division" last night. About 10 o’clock Officers Flathers and Kilmartin took a girl, who said her name was May Martin, out of the house of Lizzie Peterson, 1309 D street. At the First precinct station house the girl was charged with being under age. She claims that she is twenty-two years old.
An hour later the house of Alice Linden, 312 Thirteenth street, was raided by Sergt. Shilling and a squad of officers. Mrs. Linden and six women were captured. They were taken to No. 1 station house and charged with keeping a house of ill repute.

[Since "The Division" was in Northwest, this would seem to be the same address, as opposed to 312 13th Street Southeast, Southwest or Northeast. - Dave]


I may be wrong (I often am), but would guess the fire apparatus at right was probably once a horse-drawn ladder wagon, and a motor tractor was added in place of the "old" horse power.


It looks like the entire block was razed a long time ago, and the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center stands on the site now.

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