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Abandoned Capitol Traction Company Powerhouse in 1967

These haunting 1967 photos show the inside and outside of the old Capitol Traction Company Powerhouse, previously located on the Georgetown waterfront.
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Streetcars came to an end in Washington back in 1961, killed off by the automobile and buses. The photos were taken in 1967, well after it was abandoned and left to decay in Georgetown, sitting at 3142 K St. NW, where today’s lovely waterfront park sits.

It was constructed in 1910 to provide 18,500 kilowatts of power for the company’s streetcar network using 12 boilers and five generators. Unfortunately, it’s life was short, as it was decommissioned in 1944 and sat vacant for over two decades before being demolished in 1968.

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Take a look at this lovely series of photos, taken just prior to the buildings being razed.

Historic American Buildings Survey George Eisenman, Photographer Summer 1967 VIEW FROM NORTHWEST – Capital Traction Company Powerhouse, 3142 K Street Northwest, Washington, District of Columbia, DC
Historic American Buildings Survey George Eisenman, Photographer Summer 1967 WEST SIDE – Capital Traction Company Powerhouse, 3142 K Street Northwest, Washington, District of Columbia, DC
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It’s said that the building’s imposing structure was an intentional design element to project the importance of the streetcar system and Georgetown as a hub of this network.

Historic American Buildings Survey George Eisenman, Photographer Summer 1967 SOUTH SIDE FROM POTOMAC RIVER – Capital Traction Company Powerhouse, 3142 K Street Northwest, Washington, District of Columbia, DC
Historic American Buildings Survey George Eisenman, Photographer Summer 1967 NORTHWEST CORNER – Capital Traction Company Powerhouse, 3142 K Street Northwest, Washington, District of Columbia, DC
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Below are some interior images of the powerhouse, showing how imposing the structure was. Imagine the noise and the heat generated by the equipment generating all that power for the streetcar system.

Historic American Buildings Survey George Eisenman, Photographer Summer 1967 NORTH HALL, LOOKING NORTHEAST – Capital Traction Company Powerhouse, 3142 K Street Northwest, Washington, District of Columbia, DC
Historic American Buildings Survey George Eisenman, Photographer Summer 1967 SOUTH WING, LOOKING SOUTHWEST – Capital Traction Company Powerhouse, 3142 K Street Northwest, Washington, District of Columbia, DC
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Historic American Buildings Survey George Eisenman, Photographer Summer 1967 EAST WALL AND ROOF, SOUTH WING – Capital Traction Company Powerhouse, 3142 K Street Northwest, Washington, District of Columbia, DC
Historic American Buildings Survey George Eisenman, Photographer Summer 1967 SOUTH WING, CENTRAL ROOF – Capital Traction Company Powerhouse, 3142 K Street Northwest, Washington, District of Columbia, DC
Historic American Buildings Survey George Eisenman, Photographer Summer 1967 SOUTH WING, CENTRAL ROOF – Capital Traction Company Powerhouse, 3142 K Street Northwest, Washington, District of Columbia, DC
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Last, take a look at the human side of the building, the staircase below. Even in its advanced state of decay, it’s beautiful and ornate.

Historic American Buildings Survey George Eisenman, Photographer Summer 1967 STAIRS FROM K STREET ENTRANCE – Capital Traction Company Powerhouse, 3142 K Street Northwest, Washington, District of Columbia, DC
Historic American Buildings Survey 1967 SKETCH PLANS – Capital Traction Company Powerhouse, 3142 K Street Northwest, Washington, District of Columbia, DC
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If you want to see the originals, check them out at the Library of Congress. Also, the Georgetown Metropolitan wrote a nice post on it last year.

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