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DCscenes I
Taking Thee to the Streets of D.C.

Metrobus no. 4068 , with Celebrate & Discover plate no. B-38973, was photographed by Andrew Pang in mid-March 2007. For a close-up image of a similar plate, with the slogan below the number, see plate no. B-38778 on our Bus Plates page.

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With less than 100 believed to be issued, it's a rare ocurrence to see a D.C. Historic Motor Vehicle plate in use. This one was spotted after a late winter 2007 snowfall on Capitol Hill by J. Reid Williamson. The car is a 1948 Oldsmobile 70 Series Fastback Club Sedan.

Click here to read more about HMV plates.

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Rare is the opportunity for a photographer to capture one of the city's monuments and a D.C. license plate in the same frame. There are few roadways or parking lots close to any of the monuments, and almost all vehicles seen downtown are registered somewhere other than Washington. It truly is unusual to see more than a few D.C.-registered cars on a typical excursion to the area around the Capitol, White House, and other high-profile tourist destinations. Parking is at a premium in the area, and Washingtonians know to take public transportation or other modes of conveyance whenever possible.

The beautiful winter image on our home page of a Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck parked near the Washington Monument was captured by a persistent J. Reid Williamson especially for

Andrew Pang spotted this beer distributor truck/trailer combination as it was travelling in the 1900 block of M St., NW. Despite their common appearance in most of the states, truck ("commercial") and trailer plates are scare types in Washington, D.C. because of the relatively small number of commercial businesses based within the city. Most trucks and trailers seen are registered in Maryland, and to a slightly lesser extent Virginia.
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It was on 41st NW in Tenleytown that this D.C. Govt. Parking Enforcement vehicle was photographed at work in early March 2007. Plate no. 4052 is fastened to a Honda Civic powered by natural gas.

Stopped at a traffic light on a March 2007 afternoon, J. Reid Williamson snapped this photo of a D.C.-registered Toyota Corolla at the intersection of 14th St. SW and Maine Avenue. At the time, these CS-series plates had likely been in use only for a few weeks: the newest auto plates observed in early March were of the high CT series.

These vehicles have just entered the District from Virginia, having passed the Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin on their left before leaving northbound 14th St. (U.S. route 1). They are about to turn right and pass under tracks of the former Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad, now part of the CSX system. The government building in the background is the Bureau of Printing and Engraving Annex.


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A portion of M St. NW in downtown Washington is set aside especially for motorcycle parking, and it 's where Andrew Pang snapped these photos of several D.C. cycle plates in use.


Click here to return to home page.Electric- and steam-powered cars shared the roads with vehicles powered by the internal combustion engine (and those set in motion by true horse power) when this photograph was taken by Washington Evening Star automobile editor Howard Fisk on July 13, 1913. More of Mr. Fisk's work may be seen in our Capital Traffic galleries by clicking here.

This vehicle, a Detroit Electric brougham, is shown being driven by Mr. Bruce Emerson of the Emerson & Orme Company, an automobile dealer then located in the District of Columbia. This particular car, according to the photographer's notes, set a cross-country record for an electric-powered pleasure vehicle.

Another Detroit Electric car, also photographed from the rear and therefore appearing identical to this one, is shown in our Capital Traffic gallery (link) with the same 1913 Maryland plate, indicating (as do several images in the Fisk galleries) that early motorists (perhaps especially dealers) used the same plate on various vehicles. This is believed to have occurred most often with plates from a jurisdiction other than that in which the individual or business was based.

One of the Detroit's rear tires has been included in this image to show its unusual tread and low-profile design. Both license plates are porcelain enamel with a black background. Note how much more legible the District of Columbia plate is, with its white figures, as compared to the yellow-on-black dated 1913 Maryland issue. A reciprocity agreement under which vehicles registered in Washington, D.C. could be operated in Maryland without being registered in that state was years away when this photograph was taken.

Although issued in evidence of D.C.'s most plentiful non-passenger registration type, commercial plates are nonetheless seldom seen in use due simply to the relatively small number of them. Most enterprises that conduct trade in the District are based in Maryland or other states.

The television remote transmission truck to which this plate is attached (on the back door and therefore not visible in the photo on our Commercial plates page) was photographed by J. Reid Williamson early on March 31, 2007, as Washington's famous cherry trees began their annual contribution to the city's appeal as a spring destination.


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Click here to return to the 1991 Baseplate page.

This plate had been in use for ten years when J. Reid Williamson spotted it on a Subaru DL parked in the 100 block of D St., SE, at the end of March 2007. The AB-1234 numbering format was introduced in April 1997, and because the first number assigned was AA-0000 (not AA-0001), this is the fifth plate of the series.

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Plates CJ-3242, which is flat, and BE-3420, with embossed characters, are displayed on these vehicles parked alongside a typical residential street on Capitol Hill. They were photographed in mid-February 2007 by J. Reid Williamson.

Click here to return to the Reserved-Number Plates page.Click here to return to the Reserved-Number Plates page.
What a difference six weeks makes! Not only did the snow disappear between Feb. 19 and March 31, 2007, when these two shots of the same car were taken, but the plates had been changed, too. Shown from left to right are the 2006-07 and 2007-08 versions of D.C.'s annual reserved-number plate. In both cases the Subaru Outback was parked on Massachusetts Ave., NW, and was photographed by J. Reid Williamson.

It's doubtful that there are many original 1969 Pontiac GTOs still operating on the streets of Washington. The car may be old, but the personalized plates appear to be brand new. The scene is South Carolina Ave., SE, in March 2007, and the photographer is J. Reid Williamson.



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It may look like a run-of-the-mill private passenger plate, but the BJ prefix indicates it's actually one of the rare optional plates without the TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION slogan. The Hyundai Sonata was captured on film in early March in Tenleytown near American University.

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Among federal and district buildings and installations located at the top of Fort Reno Hill, highest point in the District of Columbia, is Alice Deal Junior High School. Vehicles parked there display their old (embossed) and new (flat) D.C. plates. Number 414-402, on the white Volvo, is a Capital City plate that had been in use for about 17 years when this photo was taken in early March 2007 whereas no. CT-2781, on the black BMW, had probably been on the road no longer than about two months.

Taxis are commonly seen throughout Washington, although because they're usually in motion (as this one is on Pennsylvania Avenue) they're not as easy to photograph as might be expected. Adorned by a Celebrate & Discover plate, this Crown Victoria was photographed by J. Reid Williamson with the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in the background.
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Washington architecture old and new is evident in this image captured on March 31, 2007, by J. Reid Williamson. The plates fastened to this Jeep had recently been issued.

Click here to return to the Organizational Plates page.This Ford van beongs to the Fraternal Order of Police D.C. Lodge #1. The lack of a leading zero on the three-digit plate, and the number itself (which to us initially seemed rather high, at least as compared to numbers on other organization plates) suggested to us that perhaps 590 had some significance. A review of the Lodge's Web site, however, shows that its number is 1, not 590, and that it has more than 11,000 members, so 590 is probably just a sequentially-assigned number.

The lodge, chartered in 1966, is named for Jerrard F. Young, its first member killed in the line of duty. Today, its members serve in 114 agencies from the Metropolitan Police of the District of Columbia and the Capitol Police to a myriad of federal agencies from the FBI and CIA to the Pentagon Police Dept., Amtrak Police, and National Zoo Police

The legend across the bottom of this plate is believed to be District of Columbia Lodge, although this has yet to be confirmed. J. Reid Williamson took our FOP van photographs in mid-February 2007 on 7th St. NE, although the Lodge is located on 4th St. NW in downtown Washington.

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Organizational plates available to members of the National Association of Black Scuba Divers (NABS) are among the most rare license plate styles presently in use in the District of Columbia. Number 4 of the series (likely the fifth set issued) was spotted by J. Reid Williamson on this Buick parked on the 4200 block of 18th St. NW at the end of May 2007.

NABS is based in Washington and was founded in 1991.

Historic Motor Vehicle plates are seldom seen in use, but J. Reid Williamson prowled the streets of D.C. until he found several. Plate no. 780 is affixed to a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette convertible spotted parked on the 1600 block of Tuckerman St. NW in May 2007. The relatively high number and absence of plate validation stickers indicates that the registration was probably issued in 2003 or 2004.



Click here to return to the Antique Car and HMV plates page.

Click here to return to the Antique Car and HMV plates page.

HMV plate 756 was photographed by J. Reid Williamson on the 3100 block of Rittenhouse St., NW in May 2007. Although it doesn't look like an antique car already, this silver Volvo is probably of an early 1980s model year.

It was apparently in early 2007 or late 2006 that the 1000th HMV registration was issued. Because only 999 sets of plates of the original red-on-white, embossed-number style were presumably made, and because embossed D.C. plates are no longer produced, plates of the four-digit series are made in the new flat style and with blue, not red digits. This example is attached to a 1969 Rover 2000TC that was photographed at night by its owner.



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It's difficult to imagine that there could be many instances in which more than one example of the optional Web address plates could be captured in a single image, not to mention that these two are consecutively numbered. The identically-decorated Toyota FJ Cruisers, being used in a corporate promotion, were spotted at the Newport Yachting Center in Newport, R.I., by Mike Hart in early June 2007. The vehicles, however, appear to not be properly registered in Washington, D.C. because they do not have windshield stickers to validate their rare plates.

Relatively few personalized plates were likely made on the City Bicentennial base, and fewer still remain in use today, but J. Reid Williamson found this one on a Chrysler LeBaron parked at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Michigan Ave., NE. Note that the logo is offset to the left, whereas it is centered on other plates of this design.



Click here to return to the Optional Plates page.

Click here to return to the Optional Plates page.

Washington, D.C. Disabled American Veteran plates are seldom seen, and it's extremely unusual to see one that was specially requested on the City Bicentennial base. It is difficult to imagine that more than a just few sets of these were made. J. Reid Williamson was lucky to spot this one in traffic at the intersection of Massachusetts Ave. and Independence Ave., SE in mid-June 2007.

Click here to return to the Optional Plates page.

Click here to return to the Optional Plates page.

Examples of the optional City Bicentennial plate are rare these days even though they were available until recently. Both of these examples were photographed by J. Reid Williamson in late May 2007 in the 1500 block of Ingraham St., NW. Evident in the photo of the Volkswagen are the two stickers that should be present on the windshield of most D.C.-registered vehicles: an orange Safety and Emissions Certificate in the lower right corner (on the left side of the windshield in the photo) and a registration expiration sticker in the lower left corner. Click here to see close-up images of examples of these stickers.

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This City Bicentennial plate was photographed while moving in traffic by J. Reid Williamson in early 2007, several years after the 2003 stickers had expired. The discoloration and rust stains are typical of a plate that has been used for more than 15 years.


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