Stereoviews of Washington DC

I was out to my parents’ house this weekend for Easter dinner, and I found my stash of stereoviews I had been keeping there. I thought I’d scan in a few of them to add to the online collection here. These are from Washington DC, my guess is mostly from the 1920s and 1930s, although the one of the Library of Congress as viewed from the Capitol dome could be as old as the 1890s.

The US Capitol Dome reflected in the rain
The US Capitol Dome reflected in the rain

I love this shot because it represents a personal passion when photographing- nighttime photography. It’s just a great shot of the Capitol dome all illuminated, reflecting in the wet street.

Capitol Hill Aerial View
Capitol Hill Aerial View

Here’s an aerial view of Capitol Hill, looking west. In the immediate foreground, starting with the US Capitol as the 12 O’clock position, going clockwise, is the US Senate offices, the US Supreme Court (the very bright white building, which stands today on the grounds of the former Old Brick Capitol Prison, home to civil war spies among others), across the street and a little more to the foreground is the Folger Shakespeare Library, and then continuing on is the Library of Congress, and finishing up to the left and slightly into the background/west of the US Capitol are two of the US Congress office buildings. On the right, far in the distance, is the Natural History Museum, and the big gulf between it and the Capitol shows these to have been taken before 1937, as the National Gallery of Art building was begun at that time and opened to the public in 1941.

Library of Congress, as seen from the Capitol dome
Library of Congress, as seen from the Capitol dome

Last but not least, we have the Library of Congress, as seen from the top of the US Capitol dome. The view is looking east down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Anacostia River. This, the main building of the Library of Congress (LoC) is one of the most spectacular buildings in Washington DC, and if you are ever here, well worth the visit for the architecture alone, if not for one of the special exhibits they routinely have on display. When I went in last year to see a photography exhibit (and yes, the LoC is one of the great photography museums of the world, but much of their collection is viewable by appointment only), they had the reconstruction of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library that he donated upon his death to form the nucleus of the LoC collection. In comparison to today’s LoC, which has a copy of every book, magazine and newspaper published since the 1870s, and a healthy selection of those before as well, Jefferson’s collection was a meager 6500 books, what he lacked in quantity he made up for in quality. He had his own organizational scheme for his library, arranged by topic. It’s a fascinating display and worthwhile for any bibliophile. For more information about the exhibit, see the LOC Website

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