This week on Now and a Long Time Ago, GM veers off to the northeastern corner of Georgetown, specifically the corner of 27th and Q St. The photo above is from about 1920 and it shows the Penn Oil gas station that once stood there. Here’s what’s there now:
(Again, GM still hasn’t solved his computer problem, so he can’t make a mashup of these two shots as he normally does for Now and a Long Time Ago. Hopefully the problem will be solved soon.)
The great website Shorpy devoted a post to the old photo four years ago. The Library of Congress information for the photo only locates it on Q St. in Georgetown, but the always reliable Shorpy commentator Staton Square weighed found old ads pinpointing its location to 27th and Q. (The silhouettes of the rooflines behind it appear to coordinate with the homes on East Place and P).
The Shorpy commentators also noted that the gas station advertises itself as selling “visible gasoline”. This involved a process whereby the customer hand-cranked the gas into a measuring jar so that they could see for themselves how much they were buying. Keen eyed commentators also noted that the glass jars were covered in chicken wire to protect them from vandals.
The Library of Congress dates the photo to 1920, but GM is not sure that’s right. The 1920 survey maps for Georgetown show no structure at (or even near) that location.