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National Theatre: 1918

National Theatre: 1918

March 1918. The National Theatre on E Street. At right is Shoomaker's, a favorite Shorpy hangout. Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.


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Shows at the National

"The Land of Joy" was a Spanish musical revue that opened on Broadway on Oct. 31, 1917 and closed in January 1918 after 100 performances. "Friendly Enemies" opened in New York on July 22, 1918, and closed in August 1919 after 440 performances--a major hit for 1918. The posters must be announcing an out-of-town tryout.

[A January 1918 item in the New York Times has "Friendly Enemies" set for a February opening in New York. For reasons unknown, it didn't happen. The play opened in Atlantic City before going to Washington. - Dave]

Sponge Again Part 2

Ok, but how did you remember such an insignificant piece of dialogue from a 50 year old movie.

[I've seen the movie and remembered the line is the best explanation I can give! - Dave]

Sponge Again

Thanks, you answered my question. My new question is: How did you come up with that answer to a question so obscure, that quickly? You never cease to amaze me.

[I Googled the script for "North by Northwest." - Dave]

Back to the Sponge

Dave, I've seen North By Northwest several times but other than the scene in the Plaza Hotel where Kaplan's suit is being delivered to the room or is that what you're referring to.

[Not sure I follow the question. Script below. - Dave]

Cary Grant at the Ambassador East, on phone to valet:

"Room 463. How quickly can you get a suit sponged and pressed? Yes, fast. 20 minutes? Fine."


The one thing that always strikes me is all the open windows in these old large buildings, even in the winter. Today, working in Downtown anywhere, the windows will almost certainly be sealed shut, a consequence of our new ventilation systems. What we have lost is the connectedness to the street. It's like walking into a cocoon.


The tailor shop, to the left of National Dairy Lunch, has a sign in its window "Suits Sponged and Pressed." I've never seen or heard that term before. Was it an early form of dry cleaning or an expeditious way of getting the garment clean.

[So you've never seen "North by Northwest." - Dave]


The pole on the sidewalk on the left side of the image appears to say "Baths." Would this be correct?

[Yes, if you needed one. - Dave]

Dairy Lunch

"Dairy Lunch" for a restaurant seems so unpalatable. I am wondering if there is some other reason to the name? Did it signify that it was non-kosher because dairy was served there? Or was it the other way around--meaning that there was no meat(only fish) served there?

["Milk bars" and "dairy lunches" were a phenomenon of the 1910s, 20s and 30s, a byproduct of the temperance movement. A lot of these places were bars and pubs before Prohibition. - Dave]

Out With The Old

Did the "old" National Theatre burn down?

[The National had been "new" for more than 20 years, having been rebuilt following a fire in February 1885. The building in this photo was was torn down in 1923 and replaced with the current structure. This section of E Street is now part of Pennsylvania Avenue. - Dave]

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