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

 

Described on this page are photographs obtained from the Washingtoniana Division of the D.C. Public Library. Established in 1905, the Washingtoniana Division is one of the finest local history collections in the nation's public libraries. Its mission is to collect and make available materials related to the District of Columbia, and it has developed into a major repository for patrons seeking to conduct scholarly, genealogical, legal, and photo research.

Among the Washingtoniana Division's holdings are books, census statistics, city directories, maps, government documents and legal materials, newspapers and periodicals, postcards, real estate records, videotapes and oral histories, and photographs. Specifically, the collection contains photos obtained from various sources from 1900 to the mid-twentieth century, comprising the Historical Image Collection, as well as the separate Washington Star Collection, consisting of more than 1 million images that primarily cover the period of 1930 through mid-1981, when the Star ceased publication.

DCplates.net appreciates the assistance of Washingtoniana Division personnel in their efforts to locate information about license plates as well as images that compliment this information.



 

Click here to return to the 1962 section of the 1960s plates page.

 

Emerging from the M Street underpass on S. Capitol Street is a 1961 Plymouth in service as a taxi for Capital Cab. This view, looking north, was photographed on Oct. 10, 1962, when green-on-white 1962 (dated 3-31-63) plates were in use. The H-prefix plate number indicates use as "hacker," as the DMV termed the registration class in the 1960s.

 

 

Photographed by Francis Routt. Courtesy DC Public Library, Star Collection, copyright Washington Post.

 

 

Scenes in which old roadways were still in use but soon to be replaced by highways then under construction were common in and around D.C. in the 1960s. The Anacostia Freeway (I-295) in the vicinity of the S. Capitol St. overpass is featured in this Feb. 8, 1964 scene. It appears that northbound lanes are open to traffic whereas traveling away from downtown still requires the use of local roadways, although the southbound freeway is approaching.

The D.C.-registered car (right) is a 1960 Ford Thunderbird. Although its license plate is illegible in the main photo, the MG in the foreground is registered in Douglas County (Omaha), Neb.

 

Click here to return to the 1963 section of the 1960s plates page.

Photographed by Paul Schmick. Courtesy DC Public Library, Star Collection, copyright Washington Post.

 

 

Click here to return to the 1939 section of the 1930s plates page.

 

A "scuff machine," used to test tire tread, is shown here being operated by Inspector R.A. Klein on June 14, 1939, at the D.C. vehicle inspection station at 1827 West Virginia Ave., N.E. The license plate is presumably the third in the series of numbers set aside for assignemnt for use on D.C. Government-owned vehicles, at least in this year, and that this 1938 Chevrolet Town Sedan was operated by the city government is confirmed by the legend DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA painted at the lower left corner of the door.



Courtesy DC Public Library, Star Collection, copyright Washington Post.

 

The Cherry Blossom Queen for 1972 was Ms. Lynn Armstrong, and in this Washington Star image she is riding in a special Ford Mustang convertible during the Parade of Princesses. Ms. Armstrong was a nursing student at Boston College when she represented Massachusetts in this annual tradition. One might expect the car used by the Queen to be adorned by a license plate with a low number, but that certainly was not the case, at least not in 1972.

District of Columbia princess Ms. Jackie Henley, an American University student, may be seen just over Ms. Armstrong's left shoulder.

Courtesy DC Public Library, Star Collection, copyright Washington Post.

 

Click here to return to the National Cherry Blossom Festival plates page.

 

Click here to return to the 1957 section of the 1950s plates page.

 

Unfortunately, no information about this photograph is available. It likely appeared in the Washington Star at the beginning of the 1957 registration renewal season, perhaps with an article that introduced readers to the new license plate color scheme and numbering system.

 


Courtesy DC Public Library, Star Collection,
copyright Washington Post.

 

This photo is thought to have been used to unveil the 1959 plate to the public, but whether it was actually published, and the identity of the subject, is unknown.

 

 

Courtesy DC Public Library, Star Collection,
copyright Washington Post.

 

Click here to return to the 1959 section of the 1950s plates page.

 

Click here to return to the 1960 section of the 1960s plates page.

 

The new 1960 D.C. license plate was introduced to Star readers on or about Jan. 9, 1960, with this photo of Miss Marrie Hollister, who at the time was a secretary for the Capital Film Laboratory.

 

 

Photograph by Tom Hoy. Courtesy DC Public Library, Star Collection, copyright Washington Post.

 

Mrs. Frances Weir was chosen to introduce the red-on-white 1964 license plate to Washington Star readers. Her photo with the plate was published on Feb. 24, 1964.

 

 

Photograph by Francis Routt. Courtesy DC Public Library, Star Collection, copyright Washington Post.

 

Click here to return to the 1964 section of the 1960s plates page.

 

Click here to return to the 1952-54 plates page.

 

On a Thursday evening less than two weeks before Christmas 1952, shoppers took advantage of evening business hours on F Street in downtown Washington to engage in holiday shopping. The vehicle to which 1952 plate no. 7-3726 is fastened, front and rear, is a 1950 Chevrolet.

 

 

Courtesy DC Public Library, Star Collection, copyright Washington Post.

 

Although no doubt frustrating for motorists stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Maine Ave., S.W. between 12th St. and 14th St., this March 30, 1953, scene is perfect in its timing and composition for us to view the transition from 1952 to 1953 plates.

The 1951 DeSoto pictured here, and closest to the camera in the center lane of traffic in the main photo, is being operated with 1952 dealer plate number D-125, which could only have been displayed legally for less than 48 hours when this photo was taken. Alternatively, a new 1953 base commercial plate, number C-3934, is fastened to

 

Click here to return to the 1952-54 plates page.

the panel van in the left lane of traffic (with a space in traffic behind it).

As for traffic approaching the photographer, the first vehicle that may be seen in its entirety is a 1952 Packard sedan registered with 1952 D.C. plate number E-5995. Other vehicles visible in this photo are registered in D.C, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina.

Photographed by Paul Schmick. Courtesy DC Public Library, Star Collection, copyright Washington Post.

 

Click here to return to the 1968 Baseplate page.

 

Another highway construction photo in the Washingtoniana collection is this image of the Southeast Freeway as it progressed south through the District. This shot, taken in early September 1968, shows a 1966 Chevrolet Impala two-door hardtop parked below a partially-completed overpass at SE 7th Street.

 

 

Courtesy DC Public Library, Star Collection, copyright Washington Post.

 

Two of the four D.C. Transit buses in this busy scene looking north on 11th St., NW, at Pennsylvania Avenue have visible plates. They are of the 1965 base, validated with stickers marked "3-31-67" (like plate no. BD-521 pictured), indicating that the photo was taken between April 1966 and March 1967. Both buses are General Motors products, with the one with plate BB-959 assigned to route S 2, Georgia and Alaska Avenues, and BB-870, an older model, at its terminus for route S 5, Federal Triangle.

Courtesy of the Washingtoniana Division, DC Public Library

 

Click here to return to the Bus plates page.

 

Click here to return to the 1974 Baseplate page.

 

The caption that accompanies this image in the Oct. 17, 1975, Washington Star is "Seaton Street NW is the latest focal point of the neighborhood attack on real estate speculation in the Adams-Morgan community." Based upon the registration number, this 1966 Chrysler New Yorker is thought to have been registered during the 1974 registration year, which is to say that the 317,000 series number is high enough that it wasn't issued during March 1974 in conjunction with the 1974 general reissuance.

Photographed by Walter Oates. Courtesy DC Public Library, Star Collection, copyright Washington Post.

 

This typical scene on 14th St. NW in 1941 includes auto, truck, trolley, and pedestrian traffic. Although the make of the car upon which the plate shown is bolted is unknown, it appears to be about a 1934 model, and the beverage truck has "DRINK PAR" painted on the back. The Hotel Hamilton, now the Hamilton Crowne Plaza, is located at 14th and K Streets.

Arguably the most interesting vehicle in this image is the PCC Car, an iconic American streetcar design of the mid-1930s. PCCs were used by the Capital Transit Company (renamed the D.C. Transit System, Inc. in 1956) from 1937 through 1962. The car shown, no. 1102, was built by the St. Louis Car Co. during 1937, and was one of 45 units shipped to Washington late in the year.

Courtesy of the Washingtoniana Division, DC Public Library

 

Click here to return to the 1941 plates section of the 1940s plates page.

 

Click here to return to the 1940s plates page.

 

Dated 1948 plates, such as this Hire (Taxi) issue, were nearing the end of their useful lives when this photograph of the busy intersection at F and 12th Streets NW was taken in late February 1949. The Premier Cab Association taxi quickly became almost completely surrounded by pedestrians after its driver stopped to allow a streetcar to rumble past on its southbound route along F Street.

Courtesy DC Public Library, Star Collection, copyright Washington Post

 

This June 1, 1942 Washington Star photo shows how empty Washington's usually bustling streets became during a drill to test preparedness in the event of an enemy attack on the city. The Star's caption reads "Looking east on F Street, this scene shows how effectively the downtown streets were cleared during the practice alarm. Streetcars, buses, trucks, and private cars stopped and pedestrians scattered into buildings. The picture was taken from in front of the Capitol Theatre." As much of the marquee is visible and legible is reproduced below.

On the car pictured is a 1942 base Taxi plate, with DIST. OF COL. EX-3-31-43 across the top and TAXI centered at the bottom.

Courtesy of the Washingtoniana Division, DC Public Library

 

Click here to return to the Taxi plates page.

"SHIP AHOY" - "RED" SKELTON - ELEANOR POWELL
BERT LAHR AND TOMMY DORSEY'S BAND IN SEASON'S TOP
[hidden]
[illegible] - HENNY YOUNGMAN - RADIO ACES - 16 RO[hidden]

 

Click here to return to the Taxi plates page.Two 1946-48 Plymouths in livery service, and therefore registered with Hire plates, are visible in this Aug. 23, 1948, Washington Star image, the caption of which reads "Traffic officials watch as Knee-Hi, 10-month-old wire-hair terrier, gets her first safety lesson today under Inspector Richard H. (Dick) Mansfield, The Star's Safety Director. Watching the dog crossing the intersection at John Marshall Place and Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. are (left to right): Inspector Arthur E. Miller of the Traffic Division, Wallace L. Braun, acting director of vehicles and traffic; Washington I. Cleveland, District manager of the American Automobile Association; Capt. L.T. Johnson of the Traffic Division, Inspector Mansfield, unidentified bystanders, and Traffic Officer William C. Burkett.

Courtesy of the Washingtoniana Division, DC Public Library

 



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