This week on Now and a Long Time Ago, GM returns to the Georgetown waterfront. According to the Library of Congress, the photo above dates from anywhere between 1909 and 1932. GM’s looked closely, and the only building in the photo whose construction GM can date if the Capital Traction Power House towards the center right. But that was built in 1910, so that doesn’t help much. So all GM can say is that this photo is from somewhere between 1910 and 1932.
Here’s the shot from today:
Before getting into the differences, GM is struck by the similarity of angle, which suggests that the old shot may have also been taken from the Key Bridge. Since that span was constructed in 1923, it would narrow the window a bit.
While GM can’t quite date the old photo, he can identify a few of the buildings in the shot. Beyond the Capital Traction Power House there’s the flour mill:
On the riverbank there’s a boathouse for canoes: Continue reading
This week for Now and a Long Time Ago, GM heads down to the waterfront and digs up the story of the great flood of 1918.
This is a story GM covered before. The Post reported on February 19, 1918:
30,000 Throng Aqueduct Bridge and Neighboring Roads to Witness Wreckage Left By Weeks’ Flood
Everybody nearly was out on the Aqueduct bridge yesterday…watching the ice in the Potomac go by. There were close to 30,000 of them during the height of the ruch witnessing and commenting on the greatest flood the Capital has seen since 1889…A young woman stood on the bridge. She was filled with poetry by the maelstrom which whirled beneath her feet. She grasped her escort by the arm “Ain’t it wonderful what nature can do?” she breathed.
The only boathouse that appears in the old shot that has survived in the green Washington Canoe Club you can see square in the middle of the new shot.
Another item in the old shot that catches GM’s eye is the block of rowhouses on Canal at the bottom of the hill. Nowadays that’s just a hillside of trees. Continue reading
Back in January, GM published an entry in his occasional “Why Not” series. This time he asked: Why not build a waterfront ice rink? In all honesty, GM thought it was a huge pipe dream and had no chance of actually coming to pass. But shortly after publishing it, GM was approached by Sue Hamilton of the Georgetown Business Association to let him know it’s not such a pipe dream after all.
Turns out that back in the 90s, there was an ice rink on the waterfront. At the time, the park was rented from the feds by the city, so NPS’s policy against “active parks” was not a problem. The ice rink itself was a portable unit and it came from the recently defunct Ice Capades. The rink was up for several years before the city turned the park back over to NPS and the rink was kicked out. Since then, however, it has remained in storage. Sue told GM, though, about the nascent plans and that a return of the rink was a real possibility.
While GM was thinking more about a rink in the waterfront park, the plans, as reported by the Post, call for the Washington Harbour fountain to be converted to a rink, and that’s probably a better idea. The restaurants can cater to the crowds with hot chocolate and the like. Continue reading