Rare Film Footage of Pennsylvania Avenue in 1909

This is one of our best GoDCer contributions yet. Tom from Bethesda sent this over to share with everyone else. This was taken on Pennsylvania Ave. NW between 10th and 11th St. Watch the whole thing and marvel at how chaotic the street scene and traffic seem to be. Safety was certainly different back then.

Here is a description of the film from Tom.

This film clip was shot in July 1909 on Pennsylvania Avenue between 10th and 11thStreets facing the U.S. Capitol. Not even the Library of Congress has additional information, only that it was obtained from the Brook Foundation Collection – an offshoot of a Thomas Edison company. Copy was made from a 35mm negative. Notice the billboards. The one on the left appears to be an ad for C/B Corsets (attachment 1). 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.

Anyone with information please respond. I am trying to develop an audiovisual exhibit for a museum from archives and home movies pre-1930. The LOC # is (FPB 9286) 1161224-2-1.

Amazing video Tom. Thanks for sharing!

If you guys liked this, check out two other videos we have shared, a baseball tribute and a turn-of-the-century mail carrier.

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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