Change Over Time- a 1920’s Painting of Pennsylvania Avenue

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Today’s gleaning from the Library of Congress is a painting by the artist Susan Brown Chase, done between 1920 and 1930, of the 2200 block of Pennsylvania Avenue. Chase is well known for her paintings of Washington, particularly of everyday topics. This view shows Washington Circle and Pennsylvania Avenue as a tree-lined residential area area, with street-level shops, pedestrians, and (gasp!) parking!

This is the Google Street View snippet for Washington Circle today:

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Why so different? George Washington University, which expanded dramatically in the 1940’s, transforming Foggy Bottom from a residential area to a commercialized campus with numerous office buildings. The circle was part of the original L’Enfant Plan, but did not become developed until the 1870’s and 1880’s  after the Civil War caused Washington’s population to increase dramatically. In the late 1930’s and 1940’s, GWU’s theoretical physics department was recognized as one of the best in the country and hosted such luminaries as Niels Bohr and George Gamow of Big Bang Theory fame (sorry Sheldon).

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