This week for Georgetown Time Machine, GM visits the intersection of Canal Rd., M St., the Whitehurst and the Key Bridge.
Based upon the cars in the photo, it would appear that this photo is in the 1940s. But the Whitehurst didn’t open until late 1949. So maybe this is from the very end of the 1940s, or into the very early 1950s. (Any car experts out there who can date the cars exactly?)
Much of this scene hasn’t changed that much in 60 plus years. The Car Barn is still there (although doesn’t have streetcars coming and going from it). The gas station was there (although it was a Sinclair Oil station).
What is most striking is how different the spanking new Whitehurst ramps looked like:
It’s hard to look at these scenes and not hear a chippy voice from some mid-century news reel talking about how the HIGHWAYS of TOMORROW would quickly SPEED you from your WHITE PICKETT-FENCED home to the BIG CITY and back to your WIFE holding a COCKTAIL for YOU (a white man).
Seeing fresh new concrete so swoopingly shaped also makes movements like Brutalism make a little more sense. New concrete in crazy shapes was surely a breath of fresh air so shortly after the horrors of World War II and all the old ways that lead to it. This was a new future, cleaner and more free than the past.
But as a visit to the FBI building can attest, concrete doesn’t age well. And these ramps now look nothing like they did in their pristine youth:
The back ramp that went directly from the Whitehurst to the bridge is no longer there. That was removed during the late 90s renovation.
The future lived here once.