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Pennsylvania Avenue: 1910

Pennsylvania Avenue: 1910

Washington, D.C., circa 1910. "Pennsylvania Avenue west from the Old Post Office." Landmarks here include the Washington Post newspaper, the Willard Hotel between 14th and 15th, the U.S Treasury, a bit of the White House, and the State, War and Navy building. Detroit Publishing glass negative. View full size.


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Glimpse of life

This general scene is described very well in a book published in the 1940s, entitled "Starling of the White House." Col. Edmund Starling (a Kentucky colonel) was a Secret Service agent who served from early in the Wilson administration into the earlier terms of FDR. He lived at the Willard and walked to work at the White House.


All I can say is that it looks as though the author of that Washington Post piece must have been on the receiving end of some fine comestibles and high class importated wines and liquors. Or maybe he was a Gerstenberg.

"Government Takeover"?

Hardly. The Commerce Department building between 14th and 15th is south of the part of Penn Avenue seen here. All the retail in this picture has either been replaced by new retail or public space. On the north side of Penn Ave Miller's, the cigar shop, the telegraph building, Gerstenberg's, and the Post have been replaced by a JW Marriott hotel. The retail on the south side of Penn directly across from the Willard became Pershing Park and the retail to the left of the Willard now includes the Occidental restaurant and W Hotel (formerly Hotel Washington).

Only the Best Viands

Gerstenberg's, 1343 E St. N.W., later became the Canton Pagoda, seen in this Shorpy Post: Radio School 1920.

Washington Post, Feb 24, 1907

Ernst Gerstenberg
Popular Boniface

With the prestige of twenty years' uninterrupted success, the logical outcome of a strict adherence to fundamental ideas of superiority in the realm of delicatessen, Ernst Gerstenberg, the popular boniface of 1343 E Street, today occupies a position prominent among the National Capital's noted caterers.

This famous resort, distinctive in every degree, has become the hub of some of the nation's leading men. Its reputation is as wide as the country for its excellence in the preparation of foods, and only the best viands are selected with rare judgement, and reach the patron in the most tempting and pleasing style.

Mr. Ernst Gerstenberg, one of the famous epicures in German delicatessen, has achieved a brilliant success in a field which first offered discouragement, and through a display of superior judgement and straightforward business policies, and the handling of goods with the "ear-marks" of undisputed quality, has made permanent a place in which the city has evidenced pride.

The name "Gerstenberg" is a synonym for originality. From its inception this has been the characteristic feature of the place. The patron derives the genuine satisfaction of being provided at Gerstenberg's with those luxuries which, by some happy stroke of genius, are better, because they are different, from preparations of any other sort. Things are done in the "gold old German way," and, as the purveyor of the best, Gerstenberg is without a peer.

Though absorbed for the most post in the personal supervision of his extensive trade, Mr. Gerstenberg has often assumed charge of his cooking department, and his qualifications as chef are the highest. Before coming to America he learned every phase of the business in Germany, and throughout his active management of the place, has in emergencies demonstrated rare ability in every feature of the culinary art.

Aside from its reputation as one of Washington's leading restaurants, Gerstenberg's is famed for its high-class importations of the finest wines and liquors. Gerstenberg's beers including Luchow, Hofbrau, and Pilsner, have gained wide popularity. Mr. Gerstenberg is the sole distributor in the District of Columbia of the famous Aromatique Bitters, a noted German preparation of wonderful medicinal properties.

Municipal Building

Just out of sight on the left would have been the District Building, a.k.a. the Municipal Building, now called the John Wilson Building. The story of its abandonment and resuscitation are too long and involved to delve into here.

The statue at the corner looks to be that of Alexander Robey "Boss" Shepard Shepherd, but I can't get a good enough look to be certain. Boss Shepard is another long story in DC's history. After a stay in storage at the Blue Plains water treatment plant, the statue is back in front of the Wilson Building again.

[The monument is indeed U.S.J. Dunbar's statue of Alexander Shepherd, unveiled on May 3, 1909. Exactly where it was to be put on the lawn was the subject of a prolonged civic controversy. - Dave]

A Clearer Picture

This Shorpyshot (™?) certainly gives me a clearer perspective of the White House's neighborhood.

Eggroll with that?

So 100 years ago the prez could walk across the street for some Chinese takeout!

This Sportin' Life

I wonder if the 1910 version Woodward or Bernstein has left his classy chassis idling at the curb while he dashed into The Post to file a rewrite. Great image.


Will you look at that charabanc waiting over by Millers, and the "braver than I" cyclist in the thick of it! And is that a Stutz outside the Post?

Government Takeover

What a difference today, especially the south side from 13th to 15th streets and south down 14th. It's all federal government buildings replacing the retail stores you see in this picture. I'm curious about the statue on the corner of Penn and 14th. I guess he wasn't too important as the Reagan building now dominates that whole block from 13th to 14th.

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