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Rediscovering 1938 Washington, D.C.’s Waterfront

Step back to June 1938 in Washington, D.C. - a resilient city facing the Great Depression. Explore its vibrant waterfront, frozen in time.
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Source: Library of Congress

In June 1938, against the backdrop of the Great Depression, Washington, D.C.’s waterfront came alive with a sense of resilience and unity. The city, like the rest of the nation, was facing economic hardships, but amidst the struggle, its people found solace and connection along the tranquil shores of the Potomac River. The waterfront became a symbol of hope, a place where families and friends gathered to escape their daily worries, sharing moments of joy and determination.

Photographer Arthur Rothstein, working for the Farm Security Administration, had a crucial mission – to document American life during this transformative period. In his lens, he captured the essence of a nation grappling with challenges, yet also embodying a spirit of strength and perseverance. This particular photograph, frozen in time, serves as a time capsule, offering us a glimpse into the lives of those who called Washington, D.C. home in 1938.

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As we look back on this snapshot, we’re transported to an era where the world moved at a different pace. Amidst the boats gently bobbing on the river and the iconic architecture of the city, we see the faces of people – faces that reflect the diversity of human experiences and emotions. It’s a window into a history that shaped the city’s identity and echoes through the generations that followed. Let’s cherish this piece of the past, as it reminds us of the strength and hope that carried the nation through challenging times, leaving an indelible mark on the history of Washington, D.C.

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