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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Historic Washington, D.C.

Apologies for the long break. I took some time off to focus on other projects, but hopefully I'll find the time for at least a few posts. So at long last another Case Study, as always starting with a historical photos post. Though not as young as San Francisco, Washington, DC is relatively young by East Coast standards, having been founded in 1791. However, the existing port of Georgetown, founded in 1751, was included within the borders. In 1800, Congress had its first session.

You will notice the very different character of Washington, DC, when compared to other East Coast cities, owing to its later founding and the ceremonial plan by Pierre L'Enfant. There is none of the charm of, say, Boston's Beacon Hill. Washington is altogether more utilitarian, with wide roads and a focus on views and vistas rather than the street level. Regardless, it was undoubtedly a more attractive city than it is today, especially in the downtown core, which today is a bland assortment of nondescript office buildings. 

It was more difficult than usual to collect this selection of photos. While the Library of Congress has a comprehensive assortment, usually a city's public library has more general street views and architecture photos, but unfortunately the DC Public Library's Washingtoniana collection does not have an online presence, nor does it have a good Flickr account. In general the photos here are not as impressive, I believe, as previous posts about Boston and Baltimore, but still give a good overview about DC's past. 

If anyone from the DC Public Library reads this, please consider sharing your photo collection with the nation. I can only imagine what treasures it holds. Unless otherwise noted, images courtesy Library of Congress.

Georgetown, 1855
Grand Review of the Armies after the Civil War, Pennsylvania Avenue, 1865
William Stickney Residence, 1870's. Image courtesy Adolf Cluss Project
1871
Renwick Gallery, 1880. Image Smithsonian Institution
Old Fords Theater, 1900
Dupont Circle, 1900
7th Street, 1901
Market Space
View from Capitol, 1901
Pennsylvania Avenue, 1902
Connecticut Avenue, 1904
Rhode Island Avenue 
View from the Smithsonian Institution
Menswear shop on 12th Street
East Capitol Street
F Street
F Street
Pennsylvania Avenue
The Raleigh hotel
F Street, 1908
11th Street
Aerial of I think Scott Circle, around 1910
George Washington Inn on C Street
Logan Circle
Massachusetts Avenue
Willard hotel
French embassy on 16th Street
Corner of 15th and G Street
15th Street
Portland Flats, Thomas Circle, 1916. Once among the finest apartments in the city, demolished in 1962 to make way for bland offices
New York Avenue and H Street
Shoreham hotel
White House, 1916
1919
Truck parade, 1919
White House
19th Street, 1920
James Blaine residence, Massachusetts Avenue
Stinemetz Building, 12th and F
Woodward & Lothrop department store, 11th and G, around 1920
Woodward & Lothrop again
1921
Library of Congress
Parker, Bridget & Co. department store, Pennsylvania Avenue
Cuban embassy, 16th Street, 1937
"Embassy Row" Massachusetts Avenue, 1939
View from Washington Monument, 1945
The Case Study is forthcoming. 

2 comments:

  1. I'm about to leave after spending a week here, and I'm surprised how much the city's layout makes you feel like a cog in a machine. Between the wide avenues and the ever present emphasis on grandiosity, I feel very small. The Capitol doesn't have that effect as much though. I think because it still has a decent amount of green space.

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  2. These pictures portray a different America than what we are accustomed to today. Naturally, these cities were a lot less dense, but the atmosphere seems to be a lot more lax than the chaos we see are used to. It's hard to imagine what our cities will become in the next couple decades.

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