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F Street: 1939

F Street: 1939

Washington, D.C. "F Street scenes, January 1939." With the Treasury building in the distance. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.



The street cars are electric powered, the source being overhead wires. Where are the wires?

[Underground, between the rails. - Dave]

Flathead V8s

At least one 1939 Ford near the mailbox. There may be more in the picture since Ford started using them in 1932.

Soundtrack, Please

Now here's an image that implies a cacophony of sound:
The chug-a-lug of those flathead V8s. The crunching rumble of streetcar rails. The ahhOOOgah of auto horns competing with the plaintive bell of the streetcar. The shrill chirp of the traffic cop's whistle. The thock-thock-thock of high heels on pavement. And finally, the voices of passersby -- that mid-Atlantic drawl that offers "ew" in place of "oh." I think I can hear all of these.

Dirty Trick

Is that some poor woman's hat sitting on the ledge on the left side of the picture? Doesn't look like it's been there long.

[It looks camera-related to me. - Dave]

Where the heck is everyone

Where the heck is everyone going at 8:10 a.m.?

[Or 1:40. - Dave]

The candy of the ????

I am sure one of you Shorpers knows the neon sign above the Coca Cola one, but I am unfamiliar with it. Can someone translate the brand name and last word of their theme?

[Nunnally's, based in Atlanta, billed itself as "Candy of the South." - Dave]

Toot toot yeah, beep beep

I don't see any traffic lights or signals at that intersection where the cab is crossing in front of the trolley. Anyone know how the traffic was managed?

[I spy four stoplights at that intersection. - Dave]


The first thing that jumps out at me is the great throng of people walking on the sidewalks. I can't think of very many places in the country where you could find anything similar today. It these buildings there were shops, restaurants, and just about everything else one could want in life. The cosmopolitan atmosphere is missing just about everywhere today.

Now & Thin

We walked! To and from public transporation, schools (uphill both ways of course) and stores, all of which were often far apart. Most households had one car, if any, and children did not expect home-based taxi service every time we wanted to go somewhere. Sure, there were no fast-food establishments as we know them now but that is only part of the reason for the slimness.

Rhodes & Old Ebbitt

I looked for both but couldn't readily identify them in the pic. Can someone point them out to me or give me a point of reference. Great photo and thanks for any assistance!

[Click below to enlarge. Rhodes Tavern is the Record City building. Old Ebbitt has since moved around the corner to 15th and G. - Dave]


In the distance near the intersection of 15th Street you can see both Rhodes Tavern and the penultimate Old Ebbitt Grill, both fabled and both gone.

Slim pickin's

Is anyone else stunned by how much leaner we were in those pre-couch-potato, pre-fast-food, pre-supersize-me days?


Note the tire chains on the Twin Coach bus. By my standards there is not enough snow to justify chains but we don't know where this "Special" is going. In this picture one can see how important public transit was in the 1930s and 1940s.

Then and now

I spot a "5 and 10." Now they're called dollar stores!

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