1940s

What was Washington, D.C. like in the 1940s? Take a look at our great posts with stories, people, photos, and history about the District from the forties.

Help Identify This 1947 Photo

Where is this? We dug this up on Shorpy and want to figure out where it was in the District. Source: Shorpy
Whitehurst Freeway / Rock Creek & Potomac Parkway, Washington, District of Columbia, DC

Georgetown’s Whitehurst Freeway Opens in 1949

It sure isn’t pretty, but it’s quite effective at diverting traffic from Rosslyn, around Georgetown and onto K St. Granted, traffic is still horrific on Key Bridge, M St., and K St., but imagine how it...
Proposed D.C. subway system

Proposed D.C. Subway During World War II

Between 1930 and 1950, the population of Washington expanded incredibly. The crush of people needed a way to get to work, and though a proposed subway in 1912 never came to fruition, the idea resurfaced during...
Arlington County, Va., circa 1941. "National Airport. Plane in front of passenger terminal and control tower." Photo by Theodor Horydczak.

National Airport Way Back in 1941

This lovely old photo was taken in 1941. You're looking at the old terminal (then the only terminal) at National Airport in Arlington, Virginia.
600 block of Independence Ave. SW in 1941

Independence Avenue Before the FAA Headquarters

Take a look at the building below. This is the Federal Aviation Administration’s headquarters on Independence Ave. SW. It obviously didn’t always look like this. Now look below at what the block looked like in 1941,...
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...
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...
A crowd lines up for the movie, "Love Letters," starrring Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotton, at the Republic Theatre on the north side of the 1300 block of U Street, 1945-1946.

What Did U Street Look Like in the 1940s?

Check out this photo showing the old Republic Theatre at 13th and U St. back then. The theater opened up back on May 30th, 1921, one block west of the Lincoln Theatre, which still stands. Unfortunately,...
Temple Court off D Street and Delaware, SW, Washington, D. C.

What Did Southwest D.C. Used to Look Like?

This old photograph shows Southwest D.C. as it looked in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Source: New York Public Library I can’t really even orient myself to where this is today as the place has...
Lincoln Memorial in 1944

Incredible 1944 Photo of Lincoln Memorial

is this one of the most impressive photos of the Lincoln Memorial? Source: Library of Congress 
Capital Transit demonstration run of a Twin Coach articulated bus (a model they did not end up using), April 3, 1948. This turnaround is still used by buses today [photo by Robert S. Crockett].

Calvert Street Bus Turnaround in 1948

Check this out. It looks as it does today, minus the Toddle House in the background which is now Mama Ayesha’s. Source: Flickr user rockcreek
1940s. "Arlington County, Virginia. War Department. Pentagon, aerial view." Safety negative by Theodor Horydczak.

Pentagon Seen From the Air in the 1940s

This photo is something that probably wouldn’t be shot today. At least, not easily, without military notification and support. So, enjoy this rare photo of the Pentagon as seen from above. Source: Shorpy
1942. "Effect of gasoline shortage in Washington, D.C." Note the streetcar control tower. Photo by Albert Freeman, Office of War Information.

What Did 14th St. Look Like During World War II?

Check out this cool photo we dug up on Shorpy. Also, check out the sweet Senate Beer advertisement below the clock. Looks like this photo was taken at 11:14 am. Source: Shorpy

The Little Green House on K Street

This is a guest post by Angela Harrison Eng  At a first glance, there is nothing monumental about 1625 K Street NW. A bland building occupies the space, along with several nondescript businesses and a parking...

Photos of 1940s D.C. Streetcar Life

With all the buzz about whether the H Street streetcar will happen or not, we thought it would be a great idea to share some images of what streetcar living was like back in the middle...
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