Washington, DC history

The lost and untold history of Washington, DC.

Looking eastward along the I-495 Capital Beltway in Virginia, east of Springfield, toward the Beltway bridge over the Richmond Fredericksburg and Potomac (RF&P) Railroad (today's CSX Railroad) in the distance. The highway was nearing completion but not yet open to traffic at this time. Notice that the roadway has three lanes, and that the roadway is paved with reinforced Portland cement concrete. When originally built, the Beltway in Virginia had six lanes (three each way) between I-95 at Springfield and across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and all the way through Maryland. This photo was taken in 1963 by the Virginia Department of Highways.

Origin of the Term “Beltway Bandit”

Before the days of Booz Allen, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing, the term ‘Beltway Bandit’ was applied to the nefarious behavior of a common area criminal — a true bandit if you will. Application of the term...

Thousands of people take part in a candlelight vigil on the National Mall in Washington D.C. September 12, 2001. (Photo: Reuters/Win McNamee/Newscom)

Candlelight Vigil on the Mall after 9/11

I remember this so vividly. I walked the length of the Mall, stood on the west front steps of the Capitol (which you can no longer do) and stared out onto a virtual sea of candles...

Washington, D.C. Sunday along the Tidal Basin

Tidal Basin Canoeing During World War II

During the dark early days of World War II, people in the city of Washington still found time to relax on weekends. This photo was taken on a Sunday in July 1942 by John Collier. In...

https://www.nps.gov/media/photo/view.htm?id=0A872177-1DD8-B71C-07B983197ECB7653

Unfinished Jefferson Memorial in 1940

This great photo shows the Jefferson Memorial back in 1940, before World War II. Source: National Park Service Here’s another cool one we dug up.

Machine gun sets up outside the Lincoln Memorial on December 8th, 1941

Machine Guns at the Lincoln Memorial

The day after Pearl Harbor this is what the Lincoln Memorial looked like. Reminds me a little of what downtown Washington looked like the day after 9/11.

Washington, D.C. Automobile store on 14th Street which has stock of frozen cars

Car Dealerships Prohibited From Selling During World War II

These photos show a cool old building on 14th St. in Logan Circle which still stands today. It used to be an automobile dealership and the photos below are from 1942 during World War II. In...

1877 view of the Washington Monument under construction as seen from the Tower of the Smithsonian (now the Smithsonian Castle)

Best Photo of Unfinished Washington Monument in 1877

Many of you know that the Washington Monument sat unfinished for decades, an eye-sore of a stump on what would become the National Mall. Here is what it looked like in 1877, as seen from the...

Nourse House in 1947

Before Sidwell Friends: The Nourse House

This lovely photo is captioned as the Charles Joseph Nourse House in Tennallytown (read about the name’s history). This is the main administrative house today and it’s known as Zartman House. It’s a beautiful old farm...

Wright Brothers plane over Ft. Myer in Arlington - 1909

Wright Brothers Fly Over Fort Myer in 1909

We posted another piece about this event a while back. This is a much higher resolution image from the event at Fort Myer. Source:Β Library of Congress

Lord Fairfax House

Then and Now View of Lord Fairfax House in Alexandria

Here’s a great photo of the Lord Fairfax House at 607 Cameron Street in Alexandria. By the way, Lord Fairfax was the Baron of Cameron, hence the street name. Source: Library of Congress And here’s the...

Cleveland Heights - 1889

1889 Cleveland Park Real Estate Ad

At the time, Grover Cleveland lived north of the city in a lovely old estate called Oak Hill. Eventually, the neighborhood that grew up around his home was named for him: "Cleveland Park".

Washington, D.C., circa 1927. Nature Magazine -- Walter Layman. (Colorized Photo).

Incredible Colorized 1927 Photo of Car

Two new colorized photos for today! Here’s an awesome one we dug up thanks to Pinterest. It’s an image originally from 1927. See if you can identify the buildings in the background to pinpoint the location....

Washington, D.C., circa 1906. "Senator George P. Wetmore, Rhode Island."

Can You Identify This 1906 Building?

Whoa, how cool is this old colorized photo. You’re looking at a “horseless carriage” back in 1906. The passenger is Senator George P. Wetmore of Rhode Island. Can anyone identify the building in the background? Source:...

Union Station Taxis Before Uber

We love this old photo showing Union Station back in 1914. You’re looking at a familiar line of taxis waiting for passengers. Source: Library of Congress

Secretary MacVeagh's home on 16th Street NW

Amazing 16th Street Mansion as a Christmas Present!

Here’s a great article opening. This was published on Saturday, December 24th, 1910 … Christmas Eve. The biggest and most expensive Christmas gift that will be given in Washington this year is the palatial home in...

Incredible 1904 Photo of the Willard Hotel

This is one of the best photos we’ve uncovered in quite a while. Click on it for more. This is the new Willard Hotel around this year 1904. What a beautiful building, which thankfully still stands....

Rare 1890s Photo of Old Executive Office Building

Better known back then as the State, War, and Navy Building… This is a lovely old image of the historic and beautiful building. Click on it for a larger version. Source: Library of Congress

1903 map of area around today's World Bank

The Area Around the World Bank in 1903

Thanks for the great opportunity to speak at the World Bank today. I gave the room a sneak peek at this map today and am posting it for all others now. Check it out below. Source:...