What Pennsylvania Avenue Looked Like in 1909

Rare footage reveals the fashions, modes of transportation, and a general disregard for safety of turn-of-the-century Washington.

National Journal
Marina Koren
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Marina Koren
Nov. 6, 2013, 11:09 a.m.

What did the streets of Wash­ing­ton look like more than a cen­tury ago? Thanks to some of the na­tion’s early film pi­on­eers, mod­ern-day Dis­trict dwell­ers can take a quick stroll through his­tory.

This foot­age, shot in Ju­ly 1909 (not 1907, as the You­Tube clip’s title reads) on Pennsylvania Av­en­ue between 10th and 11th streets, re­veals the bustle of a city against the back­drop of the U.S. Cap­it­ol Build­ing. Wash­ing­ton ap­pears to be in the middle of the trans­port­a­tion re­volu­tion, with cars, trol­leys, and horse-drawn car­riages all nav­ig­at­ing the same streets. Bowl­er hats were big, and jay­walk­ing was the norm.

The minute-long clip comes from Ghosts of DC, a blog that col­lects video, pho­tos, and stor­ies from the Dis­trict’s long his­tory. The per­son who sup­plied this foot­age to the blog, iden­ti­fied as Tom, writes that the foot­age comes from the Charles Edis­on Fund, ori­gin­ally known as Brook Found­a­tion Col­lec­tion, a phil­an­throp­ic in­sti­tu­tion cre­ated by Thomas Edis­on’s son in 1948. Edis­on had pi­on­eered early film­mak­ing in the late 1880s, with his in­ven­tion of the kin­eto­scope, and later through the movies he pro­duced with his mo­tion pic­tures com­pany.

The Ghosts of DC con­trib­ut­or writes of the scene:

No­tice the bill­boards. The one on the left ap­pears to be an ad for C/B Cor­sets. The right bill­board ap­pears to show sil­hou­ette of a child and the word ‘Vel­vet.’ My search for bill­board iden­ti­fic­a­tion turned up noth­ing.

I don’t know, but would love to find out, wheth­er this is an “ac­tu­al­ity” or an Edis­on clip for a movie. It does not ap­pear to have been a staged scene with act­ors. Also no­tice the Afric­an Amer­ic­an wo­man hold­ing a para­sol and the styl­ishly dressed Afric­an Amer­ic­an man cross­ing the street.

What We're Following See More »
WWE WRESTLING OWNER
Trump to Nominate Linda McMahon to Head SBA
2 minutes ago
THE LATEST
MODELED ON 9/11 COMMISSION
House Dems Introduce Legislation to Investigate Russian Hacking of Elections
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

"On Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Eric Swalwell, (D-Calif.), a Democrat on the House intelligence committee, and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the senior Democrat on the House government oversight committee, announced they were introducing legislation to create a bipartisan commission to investigate any attempt by the Russian government or persons in Russia to interfere with the recent US election. The commission they propose is modeled on the widely-praised 9/11 Commission."

Source:
$6.3 BILLION FOR RESEARCH AND OPIOIDS
Senate Sends Medical Cures Bill to Obama’s Desk
4 hours ago
THE LATEST
DON’T WANT TO VOTE HILLARY
Colorado Electors Sue State for Right to Vote Third Party
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Two Colorado presidential electors Tuesday filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging a state law that requires them to vote for the winner of the state’s popular vote," in this case Hillary Clinton. They say they want to "vote for a third-party candidate to keep Trump from receiving 270 electoral votes," and work with other faithless electors around the country to "shift their Democratic votes to a consensus pick."

Source:
HAD CONSIDERED RUNNING FOR GUV IN 2018
Oklahoma AG Pruitt to Get the Nod for EPA Chief
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login