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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • CUBA: HOLIDAY ISLE OF THE TROPICS

City Gas: 1917

City Gas: 1917

"Gas tank at 26th & G." The city gas house and holding tanks ("gasometers") in Northwest Washington near the current location of the Watergate complex. The intersection in the photo (seen earlier here) is New Hampshire (middle left) and Virginia avenues. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

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That looks familiar...

I always wondered what that was. There is still one that looks almost exactly like this just outside London. I see it every time I take the train in/out from/to Gatwick Airport.

That Explains It

I always wondered how the guy in SOB thought he was going to kill himself by sticking his head in the oven. NOW I get it. Another of life's little mysteries solved by Shorpy.

Don Hollenbeck

Don Hollenbeck was a CBS radio (later television) reporter whose suicide is a subplot in George Clooney's 2005 Edward R. Murrow biopic, "Good Night and Good Luck." He criticized the press for not living up to its responsibilities in the McCarthy era and was, in turn, criticized by the right wing press, such as the Hearst papers, for supposed communist leanings.

Suicide by Gas

The photos of the gasometers in Foggy Bottom brings out the aspects of Shorpy I love the most: namely the history of the intersection of science, technology, infrastructure and their (unforseen) social impacts.


Conversion to Natural Gas Cuts Suicides

The conversion of Greater Washington's three million gas burners and pilot lights to natural gas has already drastically reduced the local suicide rate.

Conversion from manufactured to natural gas was begun in the District on April 1. The job was completed yesterday.

Figures reported yesterday by Dr. A. Magruder MacDonald, District coroner, show the complete absence of suicides by gas since July 1, and 12 since the first of the year.

According to police records, death claimed 46 persons here by gas asphyxiation in 1945, 30 through suicide and 16 accidently. In 1946, 28 took their own lives, and nine accidentally.

There have been six reports of attempted suicide by natural gas since January 1, all proving unsuccessful. Natural gas lacks carbon monoxide which makes up 10.8 per cent of manufactured gas and is its death-dealing element.
...
To prevent a repetition of the February 22, 1947, emergency when a break in the natural gas line from West Virginia and Kentucky temporarily shut off supplies here, a supplementary "high B.T.U." gas can be quickly produced at the East Station generating plant at 12th and N sts. s.e.

In addition, gas will continue to be stored in nine local tanks, two at Chillum, Md., two at West Station, 26th and G sts. nw., two at K St Station, 1st and K sts sw., and three at East Station. Their total capacity is 33 million cubit feet.

Washington Post, Oct 19, 1947

Natural Gas Foils Attempts at Suicide

Washington has gone seven years without a successful suicide from inhalation of gas fumes because the local gas is free of deadly carbon monoxide, Dr. Richard Rosenberg, District Deputy Coroner said yesterday.

But the Washington Gas Light Co. reports a minimum of four to five unsuccessful suicide attempts here weekly by people who do not realize the gas from the kitchen stove isn't fatal.

The Washington area converted from using natural gas in September, 1947. This gas is composed mainly of methane, which is toxic but not fatal. It usually induces nausea and the urge for fresh air overcomes the urge for suicide, Rosenberg explained. He added that a person who persists in inhaling the fumes might die of asphyxia from lack of oxygen - should the room be sealed - but not from the gas itself.
...
Early last week, CBS television commentator Don Hollenbeck was found dead in his New York apartment kitchen. Four stove jets had been turned on. New York, unlike Washington, still has some neighborhoods where only mixed gas is provided.

Washington Post, Jun 30, 1954

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