Washington, DC history

The lost and untold history of Washington, DC.

Washington circa 1916. "Fairview Hotel, 1st Street and Florida Avenue." The proprietor is former slave and "colored philosopher" Keith Sutherland. See the comments below for more on him. Harris & Ewing glass negative.

Faces & Places of Yesterday

Ex-King of Hell’s Bottom

“Keitt” Sutherland is definitely one of the top characters we have come across. And, I think it’s safe to say, Officer Sprinkle must have come across some of the ruffians from Hell’s Bottom in his time...

Old man selling strawberries on the street - 1900

Faces & Places of Yesterday

Old Man Selling Strawberries on the Street

What a great photograph. We came across this one on Flickr.

From the Crazy Vault

Drunk Speaker of the House Crashes Into Two Cars

This is a great tale to share with your friends, especially if you work on the Hill. I credit GoDCer and frequent suggester of excellent stories, Marty, with this one. Here’s an article from the Washington Post on...

Abraham Lincoln nominates William Seward to be Secretary of State - March 5th, 1861

Notable People & Places

Letter From Abraham Lincoln Nominating William Seward as Secretary of State

The one thing I have against the National Archives is that is takes up so much of my time … I get completely engrossed in the images they post online. Here’s a great one, the letter...

Lafayette Park seen from the Old Executive Office Building in 1919 (RU007355 - Martin A. Gruber Photograph Collection, 1919-1924, Smithsonian Institution Archives )

Faces & Places of Yesterday

The White House Gates Are Open to All

This is an odd scene, and one you would not see today. Below you’ll see a photo of Lafayette Square, taken from the Old Executive Office Building. The gates you see swung open are to West...

Washington, D.C., 1920. "Gripp, Mathew, [Nathan] Lahn, Troske -- Gallaudet U." Gridiron stars of the first college for the deaf, credited with inventing the football huddle in the 1920s as a way to keep its signed plays secret.

Faces & Places of Yesterday

Gallaudet Football Invents the Huddle

According to legend, the Gallaudet football team invented the huddle as a means to prevent opposing teams from stealing their plays by reading their sign language. Below are four players from the 1920 Gallaudet University football...

D.C. slums in 1935

The Best Of, Three Things...

Three Tales From Hell’s Bottom

Our neighborhoods don’t have quite the colorful names of yesteryear. Much like Murder Bay, Hell’s Bottom was a seriously dangerous place to live, or even walk through. It was not the beat you wanted as a...

Letter from John F. Kennedy nominating his Cabinet - January 20th, 1961

Notable People & Places

Letter From Kennedy Nominating His Cabinet

Wow. This one is cool. We found this digging through the National Archives. Amazing. This is the letter John F. Kennedy sent on Inauguration Day 1961 (watch his amazing inauguration address), nominating his Cabinet.

Capitol Building circa 1863

Notable People & Places

East Front of the Capitol During the Civil War

Here is a wonderful photograph from the Civil War, taken by the acclaimed photographer Mathew Brady.

September 1935. A closeup of the Washington, D.C., row house seen here over the weekend. "Front of old brick structure in section near Union Station. Land is low here and water collects in front and backyard after a rain and remains for many days. Entrances to privies are usually under water. Interior of homes similar in shabbiness to exterior." 35mm nitrate negative by Carl Mydans for the Resettlement Administration.

Faces & Places of Yesterday

Children of Poverty Near Union Station

Here’s a great photo from Shorpy. This shows a row of houses on Massachusetts Ave. near Union Station in 1935. And here is the photo of the the kids again, this time up close.

"Election night crowd at White House, November 1920." The chosen one was Warren Harding. National Photo Company glass negative.

Faces & Places of Yesterday

1920 Election Night Celebrations at the White House

Take a look at the crowd in front of the White House on Election Night 1920. The elation is palpable as the crowd exudes utter joy and relief that eight years of Woodrow Wilson are over...

George Washington University

Other Cool Stuff

Columbian University Becomes George Washington University in 1904

In 1821, an Act of Congress established a school called Columbian College on College Hill for “the education of Gospel Ministers.” The small campus was bounded by Columbia Rd., 14th St. and Boundary Rd. (Florida Ave.)....

chop suey ... yum

From the Crazy Vault

Ate Chop Suey and Would Not Pay

How can you not read an article with this title? We came across this one in the August 20th, 1903 Washington Post. B. F. Chew, who runs a Chinese restaurant on Thirty-second street, near M street...

GoDCers Love Maps

Civil War Map of D.C. Fortifications

Take a look at this Civil War map of D.C. and it’s surroundings. Click on it for greater detail and you’ll be able to see all the fortifications around the city (i.e., Fort Totten, Fort Lincoln,...

The Best Of, Three Things...

Three Stories About the Mormon Temple

The Washington Mormon Temple in Kensington is full of mystery and intrigue, like the "Surrender Dorothy" graffiti. Read three unusual stories about its past.

September 15, 1922. Clarence Sherrill, son of the Washington, D.C., superintendent of public buildings. National Photo Co.

Faces & Places of Yesterday

Street Luging in Adams Morgan

Below is a great photograph that we found on Shorpy. The young boy riding down the hill is Clarence Sherrill, Jr., son of Col. Clarence Sherrill, the superintendent of public buildings in D.C. At the time...

1903 map of Swampoodle

GoDCers Love Maps

Map of Swampoodle and Proposed Union Depot

Here’s another map of Swampoodle from 1903. Make sure you check out the 1888 one and compare them. This has the proposed Union Station superimposed over the neighborhood and you’ll see some familiar street names which...

Clayton Morgan, Jr.

From the Crazy Vault

Stolen Streetcar Taken on Joy Ride

What an awesome headline … we have to share this one with GoDCers. On October 28th, 1957, the Washington Post reported on a bizarre incident, where a man took a streetcar for an illegal joyride on...