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California Street: 1922

California Street: 1922

Washington, D.C., 1922. "1859 California Street." National Photo Co. glass negative. (Update: This house is on the market for $1.55 million.) View full size.


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My Old Neighborhood

I lived at 1863 California Street up until a few years ago and new the owner, Mrs. Miles, who said she was born in the house, when it was owned by her father. She used to fall asleep on her "sitting porch" on hot summer nights and said it was a common practice when she was young.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Miles was not able to take care of the house or herself toward the end. The city removed her from the property and I guess it went up for auction. Wherever she is, I hope Mrs. Miles is doing okay. Sweet old lady.

Open House

The house was open yesterday, and it's gorgeous.

I live on the same block, and it was just really nice to see the house saved. The old lady who was living in the shell you see in this photo was clearly not able to take care of it any longer. It was a very sad situation.


It's odd that all of the person would be such a blur, save the shoe; while walking, the feet move more than anything else. So that is indeed one of the stranger "ghosts" on Shorpy.

[It's the other way around -- in a time exposure of someone walking, the foot is the one part of the body that slows down long enough (at footfall) to show up. The rest of the body is in continuous forward motion. Which is why there are so many disembodied feet and legs in street photography from the era. Dozens on this site alone. - Dave]


But how in the world would they get there? I know some places had "alleys", however on this street I see no cut throughs.

[The alley is the street behind the houses. - Dave]

DC Real Estate records

Per DC Real Estate records, 1859 California St.

sold on 2/27/09 for $625,000.00. Assesed at $753,050.00 in 2008/2009

Property Features
Building Type Row Inside
Building Style 3 Story
Living Area 3,201
Year Built 1909
Bed Rooms 5
Bath Rooms 2
1/2 Bath Rooms 1
Total Rooms 10
Wall Common Brick
Floor Hardwood
Heat Hot Water Rad
Air Conditioning None
Fireplace(s) 2

That's not Madeline

It's the Morton Salt girl.

1859 California

As you can see by the realtor's post, this house has been completely redone since the Google Street View was snapped.

The Street View reflected the very poor state of the place due to an elderly woman living alone who unfortunately could not maintain the property. (Yes those are plastic bags in the windows.) I understand that a nephew finally came from out of town to help her move elsewhere.

I can't explain

why a shoe would just be sitting there are the sidewalk but what appears to be a leg is a stain on the curb behind the shoe.

[The shoe in this time exposure belongs to someone walking down the street. There's also a hat. - Dave]

This very house for sale today

Just a few e-mails down in my Inbox today from the Shorpy e-mail that included this picture was an EveryBlock e-mail that included this "For Sale" announcement.

Too bad the 90-year-old for sale ad doesn't list a price, for comparison purposes...

Where in the world

Was there room for a stable on that lot?

[Stables and garages would be at the rear. - Dave]


It appears she is barefooted since there is no color of the shoes. But she is dressed for an occasion. Are the shoes then all white, including the buckling? But I am mystified by the flatness starting at the ankle and downward.

[Since we can see only as far as her ankles, it's impossible to say. - Dave]

Inspect This House

Inspect This House
1859 California Ave.
Washington Heights

Few houses in such perfect condition

12 rooms, two (2) baths, servants' toilet; modern heat, electric lights; room for stable on lot. A bargain for someone.

1342 New York Ave.
Washington Post, Feb 13, 1916

Admiral G.B. Harbor becomes the owner of 1859 California street, the property having been transfered from Mrs. Lucy P. Chambliss.

Washington Post, Apr 17, 1921

Almost untouched

Still there, and besides being a bit weatherbeaten, nearly unchanged:

Madeline, is that you?

The child on the steps reminds me of Madeline, the hat seals it. By the way, is that a shoe is the lower right hand corner? It is a little fuzzy and looks a little strange. An effect due to shutter speed but it makes me wonder how many ghost photo sites would classify this as paranormal.


The neighborhood is looking more locked-down than it did then.

View Larger Map


That foot in the lower right corner is the creepiest "ghost" I've seen on Shorpy!

Ghost image

The almost ghostly child is a little spooky, but the severed foot is downright creepy

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