This week for Now and a Long Time Ago, GM visits P and Wisconsin. The old photo again comes courtesy of the fantastic Old Time DC (which GM highly encourages you to follow!).
The scene is supposedly 1959, and shows some fantastic relics. Like the last edition, the most obvious site is the PCC streetcar chugging up Wisconsin. If you zoom in the photo, you can see at the far right where the streetcar would switch from getting power from the slot on the ground to overhead wires. Here’s a shot looking south from a block up:
As for the rest of the shot, you can make out quite a bit. Starting in the distance, you can just make out what appears to be a Texaco sign at what is now the Shell gas station.
The streetcar obscures the view of the shops south of Volta (but the Phoenix was there having been opened a few years before). Moving down to the corner of P St., the first visible shop is something called “Ann’s Kitchen”. According to her 1980 obituary, Ann R. Taylor owned and operated the shop from 1948 to 1959 (i.e. supposedly the year of the photo). According to the obituary it was a location “where gourmet fare as the very best cheeses, hopies, croissants, and espresso machines were sold.” Although she sold gourmet foods, apparently it wasn’t necessarily her cup of tea. She once told the Post “I frankly can’t understand why snails are so popular. They taste like little pieces of old rubber to me.” You and GM both, Ann…
Next to Ann’s Kitchen is a shop that appears to be named something like Belle Belle Interiors, but GM could find no reference to that name in the Post archives, nor a shop of a similar name for that address. By the 1960s a shop called Brentano’s Museum Shop was there.
Across the street, where Gallerie L’Enfant now is stood O’Donnell’s Drug Store. What a marvelous neon light that was. (GM laments the loss of so many great old lights like that. He was particularly sad to see the Wagner’s sign go when Hop, Cask and Barrel moved in.) There was another O’Donnell’s Drug Store at the corner of Wisconsin and M St. (where the Riggs Bank building is, but in an earlier structure).
At the far left is a laundry that has a name that starts with Vin and ends with Lee, but GM can’t figure out the rest.