This week on Now and a Long Time Ago, GM heads up Wisconsin to the old Georgetown theater.
At the center of this collage is a photo of the block from 1960 (it might help to click on the photo to blow it up). At the center you can see the theater. At the time it was still an active and functioning theater. It was to remain open for another 26 years after this photo was taken.
Two doors up the street on the same side you can see an old Magruder’s grocery store, a family-owned store that used to dot the city. Continue reading
This week in Now and a Long Time Ago, GM visits the east side of Wisconsin Ave. just north of Prospect St. The photo above comes from the National Archives and shows the block as it appeared in 1950.
On the right is Becker Paint and Glass Co. GM doesn’t know how long this store was open, but there was an ad in the Post for the store as early as 1921. It reminded people that “The boating season’s here and it’s time canoes, yawls, etc., were spruced up for service.” The store also appears to have had a marvelous neon sign. By 1969, it appears from a report of a robbery that the store had moved down the block onto Prospect. Nowadays this space is occupied by Anne Taylor Loft. Continue reading
It’s been a while, but GM is back with a Now and a Long Time Ago. Today’s he’s eschewing the techy swipe feature and just merging the old and the new in one photo. What we see is Prospect St. just west of 37th St. (what is now immediately south of Lauinger Library). The old photo is from 1951 and comes courtesy of DDOT’s fantastic brochure on the history of the O and P St. trolley tracks. Continue reading
This week on Now and a Long Time Ago, GM heads up to Book Hill. Nowadays, Book Hill is a beautiful little hillside park that offers an even more beautiful view from the top. It is named, of course, after the stately public library that crowns it.
At the base of Book Hill is Reservoir Rd. GM long assumed that Reservoir Rd. was named after the reservoir at its western end: the Georgetown reservoir in the Palisades. But there was another reservoir at the eastern end: the Wisconsin Ave. Reservoir. Continue reading
It’s been a while since GM has written a new entry for the Now and a Long Time Ago series, but today he ends the wait. Unfortunately he had some technical difficulties and can’t publish the “swipe” photo. Static photos will have to suffice.
Today’s location is the southeast corner of Thomas Jefferson St. and M. It currently houses Juicy Couture, but for over 100 years this building housed the Birch Funeral Home.
Started in 1861 by Joseph F. Birch, this funeral home served Georgetown until the mid 1960s. Joseph apparently was a cabinetmaker too (which makes sense given the similarity between a cabinet and a coffin).
By 1892, the phrase “and sons” was appended to the name, suggesting a multi-generational concern. Continue reading
This week on Now and a Long Time Ago, GM stops by the old Car Barn on M St.
Above you can see what it looks like today, and what it looked like in 1894 when the crews were carving a huge chunk out of the cliff in order to fit in the giant streetcar station.
As GM has written before, the station, called Union Station, was originally built for cable cars, which is what the Washington and Georgetown railroad used for the first two years of the station’s operations.
The building continued to be used by various streetcar companies until the system was dismantled in 1962. It passed through several hands before ending up owned by Douglas Jemal. He rents it to Georgetown University for use as classroom and event space.
This week on Now and a Long Time Ago, GM visits in with the great flood of 1972. The old photo comes courtesy of the fantastic Old Time DC Facebook page.
The photo is of lower Wisconsin Ave. after Hurricane Agnes blew through. This spring hurricane was the costliest hurricane in history until Hurricane Frederick passed it in 1979.
From the photo, you can see that the Potomac flooded right up to the bottom of Wisconsin. By comparison, as heavy as Sandy was, the Potomac water levels remained several feet below cresting the waterfront, let alone lapping up to Wisconsin.
As for the built environment, you can see a couple changes. The Whitehurst looks mostly the same, although historic lamps were added at some point. The incinerator that would eventually be torn down and turned into the Four Seasons/movie theater was still there.
Additionally, it looks like Wisconsin Avenue was concrete, not asphalt (curiously Reservoir Rd. east of Wisconsin still is concrete, does anyone know why?)
Finally, on one of the old lamp posts on the right, you can see the old street light signs that used to adorn Georgetown’s lamp posts:
This week on Now and a Long Time Ago, GM heads back to Camelot. Or rather just before.
GM’s never been a huge fan of the Kennedy nostalgia, particularly as it relates to their connection with Georgetown. There were a lot more interesting things going on in the neighborhood back then and the obsession of everything Kennedy is more than a little creepy.
That said, GM has always liked the photo from 1959 of Kennedy swooping one-year-old Caroline up in his arms as Jackie watches on in front of their home on N St. It’s by Mark Shaw, who took many intimate portraits of the family.
Now with his own one-year-old daughter, whom he also loves to swoop up in the air, GM’s fondness for this shot has grown.
Little has changed physically from 1959. The side-porch of the house on the right was enclosed, and (as is almost always the case with these now-and-then-shots) there is far less tree coverage.
Kennedy ran for president from this house, and left it to head to his inauguration on a freezing and snowy January day less than two years later.
This week on Now and a Long Time Ago, GM swings up to Q and Wisconsin. The old photo is care of Old Time DC and it was taken in 1973.
It shows the northwest corner of the intersection. At the time it was the location of Jack Bryant’s used car lot. This location was the site of a used car lot since at least the 1930s. GM found ads from that time period for a National Auto Sales Co. at that address.
By the 60s, the lot had gained a European focus. GM found an add for a 1960 Porsche Super Roadster being sold by Little Cars at this address. It was offered at $1795. Nowadays this model can sell for up to $180,000. (If GM ever gets rich, this is the car that he wants to keep at his beach house.)
Jack Bryant seems to have taken over the lot sometime in the early 70s, just a few years before the photo above. Continue reading
This week, GM finally gets back to Now and a Long Time Ago. And it’s the corner of 30th and M that he visits.
Unfortunately, GM was unable to find out anything about the shops that once occupied these spaces. At the center is Wayne’s, which was a TV repair shop. On the right is a stereo/record shop called something “fidelity”. GM can’t really add anything else. Continue reading