Sunday, July 13, 2014



Aerial shot looking west along the National Mall. You can date this pretty easily: There are temporary office buildings constructed across the mall both east and west of the Washington Monument. Those were built during World War I, so this has to be after 1917. Independence Avenue SW (on the left) hasn't been extended past the Washington Monument yet, so it has to be before 1942.

Over on the other side of the river, you see a huge smoke plume. That's the landfill on the north-northwestern side of the old Hoover Airport (now the site of the Pentagon). The trash in the landfill was also on fire. The smoke sometimes obscured the landing field, and the stench was notorious through the city of Washington. There used to be two landfills on fire over there, but the other got its permit revoked in mid-1932. Since there's just the one smoke plume, one assumes this is prior to mid-1932.

But, you can also see Arlington Memorial Bridge there. That opened in January 1932. So we can date this photograph pretty accurately!

I always find it fascinating to see the Mall with the Andrew Jackson Downing planting scheme. Instead of a vast "tapis vert" lawn, it used to be a semi-forest with curving pedestrian pathways beneath the vast canopy of trees.

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