Today for Now and a Long Time Ago, GM visits 34th and M St. The old photo comes courtesy of the fantastic Old Time DC group.
There are some great reveals in the old photo, which is probably from no later than the mid 1950s. First of all the most obvious thing is the streetcar. The destination sign indicates that it is heading to Rosslyn (a route that was abandoned in the 1950s.)
Looking closer you can see the great patterns of cobblestone pavers that M St. used to have (and may still have underneath the asphalt). The streetcar traveled in a paved lane (which seems backwards). There is a streetcar stop you can see in the lower left of the photo. It was basically just a raised median that passengers would stand on and wait for the streetcars.
The most prominent building in the picture is the famous Cellar Door building on the left. The nightclub didn’t open until 1965, and the building looks pretty vacant in the photo. To the right is the Eagle Liquor store, which was really popular with Virginia teenagers looking to take advantage of DC’s lower drinking age. They would often get caught by the Virginia police as they returned across the Key Bridge. Fittingly that building is now occupied by an Escape Room venue.
To the right of that building was an Esso gas station and a Little Tavern hamburger restaurant. The gas station was closed and built over years ago. But the Little Tavern lives on as the original Sweet Green location. (Another Little Tavern building is still around as the southern half of Paolo’s restaurant).