Help Identify Date of Washington Monument Photo

Okay GoDCers, here’s a challenge for you. Ken sent this in a while back and wanted some assistance on dating this photo. He’s guessing sometime in the 1920s, but maybe someone out there in our community will have a more precise estimate.

Washington Monument
Washington Monument

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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Washington, D.C., circa 1934. "Washington Monument. Capstone without lightning rods." 8x10 nitrate negative by Theodor Horydczak.

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  • ZZinDC

    Best I can come up with is the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was built in 1914. It should be visible adjacent to the building on the right of the photo (formerly the Auditor’s Building, now the Yates building), so since there’s no BEP building, I’d say this view is pre-1914.

  • ET

    I think that one low building is the Bureau of Engraving Printing building with the Old Post office in the way background.

    The picture angles makes it hard to tell what is going on. There were more buildings but with that angle and the fact that none are really close there are few clues. I don’t think you could see the Department of Agriculture Building if they were there. I know the south building was started in 1930 and the building that is on the Mall side of Independence (Whitten Buildings) is just after the turn of the century (though some of it wasn’t finished until 1930) but you can’t see that.

    I will say that the photo seems to have been taken in the Tidal Basin about where land juts inward where the bridge is at about 17th street.

  • publius washingtoniensis

    I agree on the pre-1914 estimate. The BoPE is finished, but there is no sign of the “new'” Ag Department, one of the first buildings erected in conformity with the Macmillan Plan, which shoud be just to the left of the Monument. The pond in the foreground is one of the fens or tidal wetlands that were being filled in at the turn of the century — there are photos of the filling process taken from the Monument. That site was later used for WW I tempos, and is now occupied by Constitution Gardens. It’s ironic that the Govt. filled in the wetlands at the turn of the 20th century and then dug an artificial pond on the same location for Constitution Gardens in the 1970s.

  • publius washingtoniensis

    PS: The street just beyond the wetland is 17th St, NW, roughly where the new flood gates are under construction. I would place the photographer on or near Constitution Avenue, somewhere roughly between 18th and 19th Streets.

  • Sp

    The Monument was finished in 1884, and the Sidney Yates Building was completed in 1880, so it’s definitely after 1884. The new BoP&E was finished in ealry 30’s, so it’s somewhere in that range.

  • Becky

    The Auditor’s Building (Yates) had a building built behind it (the side showing in this photo) in 1905-1906 called Annex 3 (currently the Ross Administrative Center for the Holocaust Museum). I do not see that building in this picture, so I think this may be prior to 1906.

  • Mark

    My best guess is 1892. The year of this map. Photographer was on 17th Street facing Bureau of Engraving from across carp pond. The map is called the “Altograph of Washington City or, Stranger’s Guide”, made in 1892.