1850s

Smithsonian Castle in 1856

What a lovely old photo of the Smithsonian Castle in 1856. Click on it for incredible details.
View of Georgetown D.C. / lith. and printed in colors by E. Sachse & Co.

View of Georgetown in 1855

This lovely painting shows Georgetown in the distance as it looked in 1855. Source: Library of Congress
Old State Department Building in 1857

Oldest Photo of State Department

This is the oldest known photo of the U.S. Department of State. The photo is from 1857 and shows the old State Department building, before it was located in Foggy Bottom, and even before it was...
Tysons Corner history: What it looked like in 1936

Tysons Corner History: Formerly Known as Peach Grove

Tysons Corner or Tysons used to be called Peach Grove. William Tyson owned a farm west of DC which would become the site of a major shopping mall.
1858 plan of the Navy Yard

1858 Architectural Plan for the Navy Yard

Check this out … it’s an old 1858 plan for the Navy Yard. Source: Library of Congress

Beautiful 1857 White House and Conservatory Photo

Whoa. This one is amazing. James Buchanan was the president when this photo was taken — unless it was early that year, then it was Franklin Pierce. Source: Library of Congress The conservatory was eventually demolished...
White House stables in 1857

Rare Photo of White House Stables

Have you ever seen a photo of the White House stables? We haven’t actually come across one until we found this at the Library of Congress. How cool is this? The photo was taken by Lewis...
Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1861, by D. McClelland, Blanchard & Mohun, Hugh B. Sweeny, and Thos. Blagden, in the Clerks Office of the District Court of the District of Columbia.

Incredible 1850s Map of Washington

Now this has to be one of the best maps we’ve come across recently. It shows Washington in the 1850s, marking all the buildings, roads, and rural property owners. It’s really fascinating to see all the...
1857 Inauguration

First Known Photo of Presidential Inauguration (1857)

This is an extremely rare photograph of James Buchanan‘s Inauguration at the East Front of the Capitol Building on March 4th, 1857. It’s a little blurry and not the highest resolution, but amazing nevertheless. The exposure...
Bank of the United States - $1 bill (1852)

1852 Bank of the United States Dollar Bill

How cool is this? It’s an 1852 dollar bill issued by the Bank of the United States. Source: currencyquest.com
Fisks' burial cases - 1853

1853 Ad for Air-Tight Burial Cases

Here’s a fascinating old advertisement sent in by a GoDCer. Nancy sent in an old ad for her great-great grandfather’s business. Source: GoDCer Nancy

1850s Construction Photos of Treasury Building

Here is a cool series of photographs from the 1850s, when the Department of Treasury’s building on 15th St. was under construction. Source: Library of Congress We have a couple other great photos of the Treasury...

Really Old Pre-Civil War Photo of Washington

Now this is a really super old photo of Washington from around 1857. Click on it for a much larger version to study it. I believe this is a view looking southeast, and the Washington Monument...
David L. Yulee (U.S. National Archives)

First Jewish Senator and an Ardent Secessionist

We came across some interesting history while digging through the rabbit hole that is Wikipedia. David Levy Yulee, of Florida, was not only one of the first senators from that state, but he was also the...
February 27th, 1857

Wanted: a Sober Man, Without Family

Know any sober gardeners in the area? If so, in 1857, the could have earned $200 per year, with room and board. Good Hope Hill is an area in, what is today, Anacostia. It was later...
1854 train tickets

Washington to Chicago for $18 in 1854

This is an old advertisement for railroad tickets between Washington, Baltimore and points west. A ticket from Washington to Cincinnati was $11, Chicago was $18, and St. Louis was $26.50. That ticket to St. Louis is...

Video of Really Old Photographs of Washington

Here is an interesting video that we found, showing a collection of really old photos of D.C.  
reward for stolen sailboat

$10 Reward for Stolen Sailboat

Here’s an ad in the paper that you’re not terribly likely to see today. It was printed in the Daily Evening Star on July 5th, 1854. Source: Library of Congress I couldn’t find anything about the...
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