Archive for the Downtown Category

Neon Traffic Indicators on 17th Street

Posted in Downtown, Neon with tags , on August 7, 2009 by Kent

Neon Traffic sign -- malfunction17th Street becomes a one way south street during the morning rush, and these neon signs are to remind drivers at intersections of that fact. This one has malfunctioned, and the arrow stays on. The signs are to flash between the arrow and the words “one way.” This sign is located between the Mayflower Hotel and the National Geographic Building.

You can get an idea of how they function from the photos below.
Neon Traffic sign
Neon Traffic sign

Then and Now: The Investment Building

Posted in Beaux Arts, Downtown, Then and Now with tags , , , on July 24, 2009 by Kent

Investment Building ca. 1925Investment Building

Then (left): The Investment Building ca. 1925. Now (right): The same location today.

The Investment Building was scheduled for occupancy on July 1, 1924. Situated on the northwest corner of 15th and K Streets, NW, the building was designed by Washington’s premiere Beaux-Arts architect, Jules Henri de Sibour.

According to the Washington Post of the time, it was considered to be in the Italian renaissance style with the entire frontage finished in limestone. The facades were broken up with fluted ionic columns, the bays emphasized by spiral cut stone and rusticated quoins.

Many novel and interesting features were included in the Investment Building, chief among them the provision for parking in the basement. The Post claimed the building was the first office structure in the East to adopt this feature with parking for 200 automobiles. Other modern conveniences included six high-speed elevators, with express service for the upper floors of the eleven story building. There was also a separate freight elevator.

A public information bureau was also installed in the main lobby which furnished data regarding trains, theaters, hotels, current events, etc., to the general public. This was unique to the Investment building in 1924.

Fast forwarding to 1999, with the exception of the southern and eastern facades, the entire building was razed and replaced by Cesar Pelli. The new Investment Building opened in the fall of 2000. Some consider the new interior space among the best in the city. The upper floors are currently occupied by Sidley Austin LLP.
Investment Building(Image from March 9, 1924, Washington Post)

Fresh Fish

Posted in Downtown, Neon with tags , on July 24, 2009 by Kent

This neon fish is in the window of McCormick & Schmick’s on K Street, near the intersection of 17th Street, NW.
Fresh Fish

Sculptures at National Geographic Society

Posted in Downtown, Sculpture with tags , on July 14, 2009 by Kent

I was meeting a friend at the National Geographic Society the other day, and its the first time I’ve ever been in there courtyard. I was surprised to find large sculptures of insects there. Here are two that I saw.
Beetle
Praying Mantis

Lost Washington: the Trans-Lux Theater

Posted in Art Deco, Downtown, Lost Washington, Theaters with tags , , , on July 9, 2009 by Kent

Trans-Lux theaterThe Trans-Lux was once located on the west side of 14th Street, NW, between New York Avenue and H Street. The Trans-Lux was designed by architect Thomas W. Lamb in 1936.  The theater opened on March 13, 1937.

One of Washington’s most elegant art deco buildings, the streamlined theater was designed to show exclusively the latest newsreels from all corners of the globe together with an assortment of shorts, comedies, and travelogs.

The theater had many features unique for its day in Washington — well-spaced seats, indirect lighting, rear screen projection, wall-to-wall carpeting, sound-absorbent walls, and one of the first air-conditioning systems in a public building in the city.

Efforts were made to save the Trans-Lux but they proved futile. In the end, Washington preservationists lost as the parking-lot firm PMI razed it in 1975.Trans-Lux demolition 1Trans-Lux demolition 2

Uneven Pavement

Posted in Downtown, Random Observations with tags , , , on July 9, 2009 by Kent

Really, nothing more than a sign I liked. It looks like the work on K Streets going to involve a certain amount of repaving.Uneven Pavement

David Bakalar’s Renaissance

Posted in Downtown, Sculpture with tags , on July 7, 2009 by Kent

This sculpture is in front of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) 12th street entrance and is titled Renaissance by David Bakalar. If I read the AAAS Web site correctly, the sculpture dates to 2000 or a little before. The Web site also states that Bakalar sculptures can be seen at M.I.T., Harvard, Brandeis, Columbia Law School and other universities, as well as at the Marine Biology Laboratories at Woods Hole, the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston, and the Nike Corporate Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.Bakalar Renaissance

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