Whoa! Tank Rolling Through DC (Where Is This?)

This is a cool photo from 1918, showing a tank rolling through Washington. Any idea where this is?

- click image for more -
tank rolling through Washington during World War I
tank rolling through Washington during World War I

Source: Library of Congress

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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  • Citizen Archivist

    The tank looks British and the officer in uniform walking in front of the tank is British or Canadian; post 1917. Not sure of locale, but the arrangement of the gate/fence in the background might help narrow it down.

  • Looks like it’s the Mall to me. I don’t know anywhere else in DC with hilly terrain, lots of trees, and well-maintained paths. But that’s the DC of the 21st century, not the 1910s. I suppose it might be the VP’s residence?

  • Tom

    We can agree it’s probably not the White House right?… since the gate looks different

    http://ghostsofdc.org/2012/12/05/the-white-house-gates-are-open-to-all/

  • Jon

    That gate looks so familiar, but having trouble figuring out. Old Soldiers Home?

  • ET

    I may have gotten lucky and found something cool at Chronicling America which may be related.

    In 1918 there was a British tank Britannia “invading” DC and the hazy picture looks a lot like the one here. There is some description about where is was (see page 21) – seems SE/SW likely because of the rail lines. Seems it went up Penn to the ellipse and Treasury building.

    http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026749/1918-04-19/ed-1/seq-1/

  • ET

    I should add two things. First, it seems that it was on some multi city tour (next stop was Pittsuburgh) and second, that is seems that it did spend some time at Rock Creek Park though the article that I saw on that didn’t mention specifically where.

    http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045433/1918-04-20/ed-1/seq-1/
    http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045433/1918-04-23/ed-1/seq-12/

  • I believe it’s the road between the East Wing of the White House and the Treasury Department. Look at this picture to see the similar pillar with a light on top: http://cryptome.org/info/obama-protect21/pict11.jpg

    • Tom

      You might be right. Looks the same.

  • ET

    The Washington Post was a bit more informative. This was done by the Liberty Loan committee (and they may be in the picture). One of those PR things it seems.

    I seems the Britannia went up Connecticut near to pass the British Embassy. Another article from the April 22 edition said it went north of the Connecticut street bridge and down the grade where Calvert St was being extended. It seems the demonstration could be seen from both the CT St. bridge and the one at Calvert. The estimate was that about 60,000 people watched.

    There was a great picture of the crew in the April 19, 1918 issue.

  • Will

    Looks like it is rolling up to the white house. Here is another picture of it: http://www.old-picture.com/american-legacy/011/World-White-House-Tank.htm

  • David Erikson

    I somehow think the two photos are not the same tank? And I suspect the one Ghosts has is rolling through Rock Creek Park?