Thursday, July 31, 2014

Local history: 1919 map of Columbia Heights, 14th & Irving in the 1920s, plus our neighborhood's pro basketball team!

Ghosts of DC has a few quick history posts of interest to Columbia Heights folks: a 1919 map of the neighborhood and a photo of 14th and Irving in 1929 (seen above.)

The map is part of an old real estate atlas of the city produced regularly from 1903 to the 1920s to show residents and businesses where everything was. I wrote about the maps a few years ago, check them out here.

Interestingly, one of the old maps shows the Arcade building at 14th and Irving, a huge complex that at various times contained a rollerskating rink, bowling alley, farmers market, basketball court, games and amusements, and a lot more. (How awesome would that be to have today?) The place housed a professional basketball team, the Palace Five Laundrymen. Palace was a local laundry business owned by George Preston Marshall, who also owned the team so hence the less than inspiring "Laundrymen." Marshall later owned the Redskins. You may recognize the basketball team's name as the namesake for Palace 5ive, the hip clothing shop at 14th and Florida. (Do yourself a favor and check out the photos of team, they're awesome.)

(The tall guy was the team's center, named Gerody. Below is the Arcade.)

As for the 14th and Irving photo, it shows the northeast corner where the Metro entrance is, which was in 1929 a car dealership and florist (I wrote about that too.) Those two are gone, but a lot of those townhouses still exist on Irving Street. The dealer was I.C. Barber Motor Co., which sold Hudson and Essex cars. The florist still exists in another part of the DC area with a different name. Here's the big version of that photo.

Here's a map from 1921 with the Arcade and playground. Kind of interesting that the Arcade, the entertainment destination for those days, was eventually replaced by DCUSA -- maybe commerce is our entertainment now. The farmers market in the Arcade also moved just across the street to the Civic Plaza, which amusingly in 1921 was a playground at the time. The more things change, the more they stay the same. (More old maps here.)

Photos from, map from Library of Congress.


  1. Great pictures. Is it possible to see any shops in the market? I'm interested in Pointers, I believe a fine meat shop, and the grocery market at one end. Any suggestion where I could find the merchants there during the. 1920's - 1930's?

  2. I'd suggest checking out and the Library of Congress's American Memory site.


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