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A Day in the Life of Washington, 1936 A Day in the Life of Washington, 1936

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Congress

A Day in the Life of Washington, 1936

Dawn Strikes at the Capitol Dome
It's 1936, and despite wallowing in the midst of the Great Depression, the city of Washington is bustling with activity.

The video, produced by the Works Progress Administration, shows a day in the life of the capital, a city that the narrator says had "again become a war capital," fighting "a battle to put men to work." It's a concern not so different from the debates of Washington today.

 

But more than the ongoing financial hardship, the film seeks to capture the character of the city. 

"The camera lens is focused to capture the spirit, the personality of the city of Washington, and so throughout the day, from dawn to darkness, to interpret in the form of shadows that movement, that restless stirring which reflects the character of the city as the face of an individual is said to reflect the soul," the narrator gently, but with a certain drama, declares. (Why don't people write like this anymore?) 

Moments of propaganda aside, the video provides a candid glance of the people of Washington—rich and poor, black and white—as they lived during the Depression. 

 

Look out for a couple of odd scenes such as laborers digging up headstones at what appears to be Arlington National Cemetery, and a girl playing with baby cheetahs at the zoo.   

(RELATED: A Capitol in Disrepair)

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