Photos: Old Washington in the Winter

Taft Inauguration

Photo courtesy of the DC Public Library

I love Flickr. Here at We Love DC, we all love Flickr. Without your contributions to our pool, the site would be a lot less colorful. But one of my favorite things about Flickr is The Commons, where museums of the world post selections of their historic photography collections. It can be fun sometimes to spend an hour or two lost in a long-ago world, made all the more enlightening because so many of those photos show scenes of our very city: Washington. As we recover from last week’s snowstorm and as we’re currently dealing with another mess of a weather pattern, it seems like the right time to take a look back at how Washingtonians of the past dealt with winter.

Above photo: The Taft inauguration on March 4, 1909. According to the DC Public Library, 6,000 men worked half the night to clear more than 500 loads of snow from the parade route.

White House Shovelers

Shovelers clear a path to the White House. Date unknown. Photo courtesy of the DC Public Library.

Many of the best photos come from the collection of E.B. Thompson, whose 1904-era lanternslides and glass plate negatives were added to the DC Public Library collection in 1944, as Thompson prepared to retire. In 1904, Thompson operated a store and studio out of 1342 F Street NW, not far from where I currently work at the National Press Building.

1899 Storm

Another E.B. Thompson photo, this one from a snowstorm in 1899. Photo courtesy of the DC Public Library.

How many times did we see that last photo in in February 2010? Wikipedia says blizzard conditions from the 1889 storm reached from Tampa to New England. It dumped 20.5 inches of snow on Washington.

These next two are among my favorites. The colors and tones are all the more stunning when consider that these images were made 100 years ago.

Lafayette Park

Lafayette Park across from the White House, date unknown, also from the E.B. Thompson collection. Photo courtesy of the DC Public Library.

Belasco Theatre

The Belasco Theatre, also from the E.B. Thompson collection, circa 1910. Photo courtesy of the DC Public Library.

The library says the theatre building, shown here from Lafayette Park, was built in 1895. It was razed in 1965 for the U.S. Court of Claims building. This site will tell you more about the history of the spot.

Visitors on the National Mall

A snowrabbit on the Mall in 1978. Photo by Chip Clark, courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.

Knickerbocker Snowstorm Hits Washington, D.C

A man walks behind the Smithsonian Castle — the area now home to the Haupt Garden — during the Knickerbocker Storm on 1922. Photo courtesy of Smithsonian.

Washington hikers (LOC)

Suffrage activists arriving in Washington in  February 1913. The bundled women were among 12 who had marched from New York City to the Capital in the dead of winter. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

SIB in the Winter

The Smithsonian Castle in 1967. Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian.

Erin McCann

Erin takes pictures. Lots of them. And then she tweets about them.

4 thoughts on “Photos: Old Washington in the Winter

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  2. So true about the “colors andvtones” of those two pictures. It is amazing to look at the buildings like the castle in photographs from oh so many years ago. and strange to think that my house could be in one of Thompson’s photographs.