SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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City Sidewalks: 1938

City Sidewalks: 1938

Washington, D.C., circa 1938. "Street scene, U.S. Treasury, Fifteenth Street." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

To stay online without a paywall or a lot of pop-up ads, Shorpy needs your help. (Our server rental alone is $3,000 a year.) You can contribute by becoming a Patron, or by purchasing a print from the Shorpy Archive. Or both! Read more about our 2019 pledge drive here. Our last word on the subject is: Thanks!

My Grandmother

My grandmother might very well be in this photo. She worked at the treasury dept for several years, including 1938. I wish there were some way to zoom in on this in a clear way to make out more details. It would be incredible to see!

[You can download a much larger version here. (Right-click link, choose "save file/target/link as.") - Dave]

Phaeton in the snow

Nice to see a touring car (the '35 Ford Phaeton behind the taxi) in adverse weather. These cars had no side glass, so they were inexpensive, lightweight and stylish, but breezy! The side curtains were so cumbersome that I imagine sometimes they weren't worth the trouble, even in a car that could hit 80 mph.

I also love that '37 Ford flatback sedan. Ford built some of the industry's greatest body shapes in the 1930s.

Driver Arms

I really like the "slow/Stop" arm positions of the drivers of the delivery van and taxi cab while waiting for the '37 Ford to pull away and the lady to cross the street. Most young drivers today most likely not know the meaning of this signal! Common signal then as were the arm positions for left and right turns, too.

Today's City Sidewalks

Back of the Ten-Dollar Bill

Until late 1990s, the reverse of the U.S. $10 bill featured a streetscape very similar to this image. The buildings haven't changed much, but the traffic patterns have. That's Pennsylvania Avenue in the upper right corner, a portion which has since been closed to vehicular traffic in our post 9-11 world [Actually closed since 1996 - Dave]. The "streamlined" streetcar is one of the first of its kind anywhere, built in Philadelphia in 1935 by the J.G. Brill Company and is part of a batch serialed somewhere between 1001 and 1010. This is a close forerunner to the PCC streetcar featured in an earlier post.

Switch Hitters

That's a cool looking bus. It looks like it goes both ways, like the streetcar, but the seats are all facing the front, and a bidirectional bus would be silly.

That's not a PCC

The streetcar looks like a PCC car, but it's actually a pre-PCC built in the mid 1930s before the PCC design was finalized.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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