Georgetown Time Machine: Pre-Social Safeway

This week for Georgetown Time Machine, GM is visiting upper Wisconsin Ave. The photo comes from the DDOT archives.

GM believes the photo is from the 1960s, based upon the cars and the fact that there are no streetcar tracks down the center of the road (the streetcars stopped in 1962).

To get your bearings, the large building up the hill in the center of the shot is now the British School. That is just about the only building on the east side of the street that is still standing today.

The most notable building in the photo is the Safeway at the center:

This was the first Safeway building at this location. It was built in 1955:

Despite being built during the height of suburbanization, the store was built right up to the street. To be sure, it was still surrounded by a large parking lot, but there was somewhat of a consistent streetscape. Interestingly, before its construction, this stretch of Wisconsin Ave. was just parking lots:

This is an aerial photo of this block from 1951. (It’s even before the modern Jelleff building was constructed).

The original Safeway was replaced by a far more suburban style store in the late 70s. And you’ll never believe it, but Georgetowners protested a major development:

The construction was completed in May of 1980. Unlike the original Safeway, this one was setback from the road and had a large suburban style parking lot in front of it:

This, of course, was the building that was soon to be labeled the “Social Safeway” for the supposedly socializing crowds it attracted. And this was the building that was then replaced in 2009 by the current store, which once again brought the store right up to the street.

GM hasn’t heard anyone refer to the new Safeway as the Social Safeway. The moniker was on the slide before the old store was torn down. Mostly this is because those crowds of socializing young shoppers migrated up to the Whole Foods in Glover Park. So now it’s just the Safeway, and that seems good enough.


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