Category Archives: Washington, D.C., gardens

The Sunday porch: Independence Ave.

Independence Ave., Washington, D.C. G. Parks, Library of CongressUpper porch of a house being torn down on Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C., June 1942, by Gordon Parks for the Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

This picture is one of a series taken by Parks documenting the “demolition of private property along Independence Avenue opposite the Smithsonian Institution. . . to make way for government housing.”

Today the location is filled by some particularly unappealing government office buildings, built during the 1960s.

Up — or out? — here:
a problem of preposition,

my uneasy relation
with the world. Whether I’m

above it or apart. . . .

Jameson Fitzpatrick, from “Balcony Scene

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Vintage landscape: repurposed

Formal victory garden, ca. 1918, Library of Congress

World War I victory garden in a formal setting, location unknown,* ca. 1917 – ca. 1920, by Harris & Ewing, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The photo seems to have been taken for the National War Garden Commission, also known as the National Emergency Food Garden Commission.

The organization was created in early 1917 by Charles Lathrop Pack.  It sponsored a campaign of pamphlets, posters, and press releases aimed at “arous[ing] the patriots of America to the importance of putting all idle land to work, to teach them how to do it, and to educate them to conserve by canning and drying all food that they could not use while fresh.”

Like it or not, what you do with the land around your house tells the world what sort of citizen you are.

Abby Adams, The Gardener’s Gripe Book

*Harris & Ewing was located in Washington, D.C.

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The Sunday porch: luncheon

The Sunday porch:enclos*ure- cozy porch interior, ca. 1900, via Library of Congress“Man and woman eating at table on front porch of row house,” Washington, D.C., 1924, by National Photo Company, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

I’m sure that this photo was taken to illustrate an advertisement for the maker of that tub of cottage cheese on the table.  (I can’t make out the name of the dairy company.)

You can click on the picture to enlarge it — then you can see that the couple are drinking their milk from wine glasses.

The location could have been in any of several northwest D.C. neighborhoods — so popular in the city was the Wardman-style of rowhouse by the 1920s.

ADDENDUM:  I found another photo of the same couple, here, having a picnic lunch in Rock Creek Park — again with plenty of cottage cheese.

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Vintage landscape: the lagoon

Washington, D.C., in July 1942, by Marjory Collins, via Library of CongressThe Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in July 1942.  Two raised corridors crossed it and connected Department of War buildings. Photo by Marjory Collins, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Above, small boys were swimming in the pool. Collins called it a “lagoon” in her original photo caption — an allusion to Washington, D.C.’s tropical summer weather.

Washington, D.C., in July 1942, by Marjory Collins, via Library of Congress

Along the sides of the water, under the trees, government workers were eating lunch on the grass.

Washington, D.C., in July 1942, by Marjory Collins, via Library of Congress

These men took advantage of the additional shade cast by the structures.

Washington, D.C., in July 1942, by Marjory Collins, via Library of Congress

“Temporary” buildings for various military branches were constructed along the north side of the pool in 1918.  The offices on the south side — and the corridors — were added during World War II.

The walkways were removed in 1947.  The last of the buildings came down in 1970.

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Life in gardens: July 1942

Washington, D.C., in July 1942, by Marjory Collins, via Library of CongressA hot Sunday in Washington, D.C., before air-conditioning.

All three photos of Ellipse Park by Marjory Collins, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Washington, D.C., in July 1942, by Marjory Collins, via Library of Congress

The mean daytime temperature that month was 86° — the high was 98°; the low was 78°. The daily high for humidity ranged from 76% to 100%.

Washington, D.C., in July 1942, by Marjory Collins, via Library of Congress

In the dog days of summer . . .

The wind lifts up my life
And sets it some distance from where it was.

Meena Alexander, from “Dog Days of Summer

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Filed under American gardens, culture and history, design, garden design, landscape, life in gardens, nature, vintage landscape, Washington, D.C., gardens