1950s

What was Washington, D.C. like in the 1950s? Take a look at our great posts with stories, people, photos, and history about the District from the fifties.

Locomotive and cars through the concourse (Photo courtesy of Trains magazine)

Runaway Train Crashes Through Union Station Lobby

This is a guest post by GoDCer from Poolesville, Jack (the guy that tipped us off to some great stories, like the decapitated convict). President Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration was just five days away. For days the...
Walter Spangenberg, captain in the Woodrow Wilson High School Cadet Corps at the school's Regimental Ball during WWII - October 1943 (Shorpy)

Walter Spangenberg of Woodrow Wilson High School Cadet Corps

This is a far more charming photo of Washington in 1943 than the mock execution being held on the grounds of Woodrow Wilson High School. More than likely, Spangenberg was in the background of that photo,...
Senators play the Athletics at Griffith Stadium in front of 460 fans - September 8th, 1954 (Washington Post)

Smallest Crowd Ever at Griffith Stadium for Senators Game

Tonight’s game against the Phillies will likely have a crowd nearly 100 times larger than the one that witnessed the old Washington team play the other old Philadelphia team (i.e., the team that one day would...
Harry Truman

Dramatic Attempt to Assassinate President Truman in Blair House

You may not know this, but there was a very public assassination attempt on a President very near the White House and it wasn’t that long ago. President Harry Truman was in the middle of his...
Robinson and King were receiving the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. Robinson had just retired from professional baseball earlier in the year. The photograph was probably taken by either Robert or George Scurlock (Scurlock Studio Records, ca. 1905-1994, Archives Center, National Museum of American History)

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jackie Robinson Together at Howard University

I think you’ll agree that this is some serious history, frozen in time. Both former baseball star Jackie Robinson and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. were among a group of prominent individuals receiving honorary...
Shaw's Tavern

If Walls Could Talk: Shaw’s Tavern

Congratulations to the latest “If Walls Could Talk” poll winner: Shaw’s Tavern. Also, congratulations on landing that liquor license. It’s been a long road, but the neighborhood and city is thrilled to have this latest addition...
1913 Washington Senators

A Tribute to Baseball and the Washington Senators

I love baseball — my first post ever was baseball-related — and baseball is back! Opening Day has passed (go Nats!) and the home opener is just around the corner. There is not better way to...
Taking off from the South Lawn (Smithsonian)

White House South Lawn Helicopter Landing Tests (1957)

President Eisenhower needed a quick and effective way to travel from Washington to his summer home in Rhode Island. Air Force One was too large for the trip and a motorcade would take too long, causing...
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower: The First President Videotaped in Color (1958)

I came across this one on YouTube. This was the first time the President of the United States was videotaped and then broadcast in color. This is the earliest surviving color videotape. It was filmed on...
National Airline advertisement in the Washington Post (1955)

This Day in History: National Airlines Advertisement on March 8th, 1955

We haven’t done a “This Day in History” post in a while, so here is one from 1955. I found an old ad in the Washington Post for National Airlines.
Capital Beltway

What Is The History of the Capital Beltway?

Love it. Hate it. It has some of the most confusing terminology for out-of-towners. Inner loop of what? Outer loop? But there’s only one Beltway. Wait, I’m on 495, but also 95, and that’s 295? That’s...
Dulles Airport at night

Three Things You Didn’t Know About Dulles Airport

Know the history of Dulles Airport outside Washington? It was born in the 1960s as the first airport specifically built for jet aircraft.
A Pan Am 707 on the runway

Pan Am’s First Passenger Jet to Europe (1958)

Aviation has a strong history in the Washington area. Following on the heels of our last aeronautical first (Concorde at Dulles), here is another first for the region and the country. In the fall of 1958,...
54 Rhode Island Ave. NW

If Walls Could Talk: 54 Rhode Island Ave. NW

I’ve always been fascinated by this building on Rhode Island Ave. It looks like something that belongs in New Orleans with the two-tiered porch.
JFK at Bowling Green State University

Senator John F. Kennedy Outtakes

Here’s an interesting video I came across on YouTube. I’m not quite sure what year this is from, but I’m guessing it’s somewhere in the mid-1950s. It’s fascinating to watch the former Senator and President messing...
Fred & Ethel Mertz

Fred and Ethel Mertz Perform at The Mayflower

Here’s a rare film I came across on YouTube. Fred and Ethel Mertz (William Frawley and Vivian Vance) from I Love Lucy performed “Carolina in the Morning” at the 40th anniversary dinner for the Anti-Defamation League....
National Union Building (Wikipedia)

If Walls Could Talk: The New LivingSocial Live Events Center

I came across a great idea while reading Prince of Petworth’s post on LivingSocial yesterday. The DC-based company just opened up their “live events center” in a building at 918 F St. NW, which was the...
Eastern High School, 1700 E St. NE (Wikipedia)

Eastern High School: History of The Pride of Capitol Hill

I thought it would be a good to branch out and do a on Eastern High School (check them out on Facebook) near RFK Stadium. It’s a beautiful building at 1700 East Capitol St. NE, originally...
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