1930s

What was Washington, D.C. like in the 1930s? Take a look at our great posts with stories, people, photos, and history about the District from the thirties.

Visibility zero unless you lend your binoculars to the navy

U.S. Navy Needs Your Binoculars for World War II

Between 1936 and 1943 the Work Projects Administration (WPA), about 2,000 posters were designed to promote the arts, community activities, and used for education. The Library of Congress has digitized 907 of these posters. The one...
National Cathedral under construction

Early National Cathedral Construction Photos

Check out this great series of photos of the National Cathedral under construction. Most of these photos were taken between 1932 or 1933.   Source: Library of Congress

Little Girls Playing Next to West Wing

Times sure were different. You’re never going to see something like this again, but at the time, the White House was fairly accessible. The photo below was taken in 1938 and shows two young girls playing...
Crack shot of White House police force. Washington, D.C., Aug. 10. Outstanding marksman of the White House police force is Roland Ford, today averaged 294 bullseyes out of a possible 300 while shooting in competition with marksmen from other agencies in the Treasury Department. Forty-eight experts competed for medals and cup for themselves and their services in the friendly matches, 8/10/37

Roland Ford: White House Police Officer and Crack Shot

We came across this photo of White House police officer Roland Ford in the Library of Congress archives. Source: Library of Congress We did a little digging to see what we could find on Roland. According...

Great 1930s Film Footage of Washington, D.C.

Here’s a great film of Washington in the 1930s.

1933 Public and Zoning Area Map of D.C.

Here’s a cool map that we dug up in the Harvard University online archives. Source: Harvard College Library

Ex-Slave Visits With FDR at White House

Watching the Oscars and thinking of 12 Years a Slave, we were wondering if and when a former slave visited the White House as a guest. I also suspect that this has happened more than once,...
1937 map of D.C.

1930s Map of Washington, D.C. Neighborhoods

Here’s a great old map that we found showing all the neighborhood boundaries from 1937.
Mount Vernon in the snow

GoDCer’s Photos of Mount Vernon in 1932

Here are two great photos of Mount Vernon in 1932, the 133rd anniversary of George Washington’s funeral. GoDCer Mollie sent these in to share with the community.
Joe DiMaggio, Shirley Povich, and Yogi Berra

Shirley Povich’s Ad: ‘Reach for a Post Instead of a Ghost’

Even though the Washington Post had a new owner, things were tough financially for the paper in the depth of the Depression in 1933, the last year Washington had a baseball team in the World Series....
Walter Johnson in 1939

What Did Walter Johnson’s Voice Sound Like? Listen To This 1939 Senators Broadcast.

It’s been extremely difficult for me to track down any audio recording of the greatest pitcher of all time, Walter Johnson. We have written so much about him, and yet, we have no idea what is...
Nubby Nuckols headlines

Meet Carroll “Nubby” Nuckols: 1930s Rum Runner and Czar of Gambling

We’ve stumbled across an amazing character from Washington’s past, one to rival (but not surpass, of course) Officer Sprinkle. No doubt, the two of them crossed paths at one point and one was likely well-acquainted with...
Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC

Constitution Avenue Almost Renamed Franklin or L’Enfant Avenue

We wrote a while ago about the history behind Constitution Avenue. Doing a little more digging, we have come up with a great addendum to that post, with a little more backstory on the second-place names....
John W. Ross Elementary School

Why Is It Named Ross Elementary School?

Who was John W. Ross? He has a nice little school named for him in Dupont Circle at 1730 R St. NW. It’s pre-K through fifth grade and has only 154 students. Maybe some of you...
Phoebe Hearst Elementary School

Why Is It Named Hearst Elementary School?

Hearst Elementary School up in North Cleveland Park, behind Sidwell Friends, is a cute little school for about 200 students. We’ve wanted to do a post on a local public school for a while and were...
corporal punishment

Corporal Punishment Banned in D.C. Schools

Here’s an interesting article that we dug up from April 17th, 1930, printed in The Washington Post. Emphatic condemnation of any form of corporal punishment of a child by a teacher in the District schools was voiced yesterday...

Film of Day in the Life of 1930s D.C.

This is a really cool old film that we dug up at the U.S. National Archives. Check it out and see what landmarks you can identify, then add them to the comments below.

Photo of Bombers in Flight Over D.C. in 1931

This might be one of the coolest old photos we have discovered. It shows a squadron of bombers flying over Washington in 1931. The main road in the picture is Pennsylvania Ave. heading toward the White...
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