Help Date This Photo

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From the fantastic group Old Time DC comes a request from DDOT: When is this photo from?

It’s of the intersection of Key Bridge and M St. Some immediate clues start to pop out when you look at it.

For instance, it appears to be from after the construction of the Whitehurst, which you can see in the upper right corner:

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That would place it no earlier than October 1949.

Also in the same detail is the Washington Flour mill. The mill itself stopped operating in 1969, although the building remained for quite a bit longer (most of it is still there, but it was partially cleaved.)

GM is not enough of a car guy to date the photo by the vintage of the automobiles. But perhaps you are? There are a handful of VW bugs, which became hugely popular in the 1960s, but were around well before then.

Anyone have a clue?

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Help Date This Photo

  1. Robert Mathews

    Not a car guy myself, but those sedans look mid-to-late 60’s to me. Another clue is the bus on M Street in the upper left corner. The street car tracks on M St are clearly abandoned, which would put this no earlier than 1960, probably more like 1962.

    On Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 10:02 AM, The Georgetown Metropolitan wrote:

    > Topher posted: ” From the fantastic group Old Time DC comes a request from > DDOT: When is this photo from? It’s of the intersection of Key Bridge and M > St. Some immediate clues start to pop out when you look at it. For > instance, it appears to be from after the co” >

  2. Newest cars I see are a pair of ’64 Fords, one in the middle of the intersection turning toward the camera – the hardtop with light roof, dark body..

  3. 1966. Photo by Marc Blair

  4. No evidence that this is actually a Marc Blair photo. But, based on the growth of that tree at 35th & M and a 1966 Car Barn photo by Marc Blair that shows this intersection in the background and one can conclude this photo is very near 1966.

  5. No later than the mid-1960s. The Watergate is not yet built along Virginia Ave, and the building in front of the Washington Monument is now the embassy of Saudi Arabia. (Construction of the Watergate apparently started in 1963, but they may have first started on the side nearest the Kennedy Center.) The two chimneys to the left of the Monument are the Capital Traction powerhouse, demolished in 1968.

    There is a building to the left of the Monument that appears to be under construction. Its either an apartment building in Foggy Bottom or what is now the offices for the Office of Personnel Management.

  6. I would say with confidence that the photo is likely 1966 or certainly within one year, based on 1966 Marc Blair photos taken of the Car Barn and of the 3400 block M St, aka Regency Row.

    Download the hi-res tifs of these 1966 Marc Blair photos:
    1 – http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/hhh.dc0100.photos.025805p/
    2 – http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/hhh.dc0048.photos.025812p/

    Looking at 1 and you can see a row of vacant stores except for one with a single awning. A single awning, very likely the same, is visible in the undated photo. Similarly the mixed state of cobblestones and pavement and pavement patches of M St between 34th St and Key Bridge appear consistent in the two photos.

    Looking at 2 and you can see the tree at the intersection of 35th and M is in similar or near identical state of overgrowth overhanging the M St sidewalk. It does seem to not be precisely identical timing as the undated photo has a tree planted in M St sidewalk that do not appear to be present in the Blair photo, implying the 1966 Blair photo came first or that sapling did not survive long.

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