Amazing Photo of Men Bicycling Near Peirce Mill

What an amazing photo this is from sometime between the 1880s and 1910s. I can’t quite tell the direction of this shot. I think it’s looking east toward Mt. Pleasant?

Three men with bicycles on bridge near Pierce Mill, Washington, D.C.
Three men with bicycles on bridge near Pierce Mill, Washington, D.C.


Source: Library of Congress

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  • ShaunDGrey

    If they’re positioned on a bridge over Rock Creek and the mill is to their backs, wouldn’t it hold that the camera is looking west, towards Connecticut Ave, possibly in the Van Ness area?

  • John3InDC

    Yes, I agree. The mill is in the right rear and this is looking west.

  • ET

    I have been looking at the 1927-1928 vol. 5, (1927) Sanborn maps to see what the roads and such looked like about that time (was their another bridge) and while Tilden was configured a little bit differently than it is today I didn’t see what looked to be another bridge. Of course this photo predates the late 1920’s so there may have been another then.

  • David Fielding

    The shadow cast from the bridge rail is the clue. The photo appears to be taken at midday, sun coming from the left of frame. I had to Google some history I recalled reading about CIA or FBI spying on embassies from the Art Barn.

    Despite the starting and stopping of operations, Peirce Mill was a
    popular destination in Rock Creek Park, especially for groups of
    schoolchildren. In 1971, the Peirce carriage house, located next to
    the mill, was rehabilitated by the Park Service and rechristened the
    Art Barn, a showcase for local artists. Popular with local art
    aficionados as well as schoolchildren, who were offered free art
    classes, the Art Barn continued for some 21 years, until budget cuts
    shut it down. In 1992, The Washington Post reported that the Art Barn
    had also been serving a secret mission. Unbeknownst to almost
    everybody, government agents had installed electronic surveillance
    gear in the attic of the Art Barn to spy on the nearby Eastern Bloc
    embassies of Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The Art Barn’s director, Ann
    Rushforth, was quoted as saying, “We always knew which guys were the
    CIA guys because they always wore sunglasses indoors, had real sharp
    creases in their pants, short haircuts and shiny shoes.” The agents,
    who were more likely from the FBI, ended their spy games as the Cold
    War drew to a close.

  • John Ray Hoke Jr

    I believe that this photo was taken sometime between the 1885s and 1900s plus or minus a few years either way. It’s looking west up Tilden St towards Connecticut Ave? Those buildings in the background are a part of the original Pierce Mill Farm.