WASHINGTON, DC—Since it was established nearly 125 years ago, the National Geographic Society has been known for its photography—telling stories, documenting the world’s events and transporting viewers with remarkable images—first in its magazine, today across multiple platforms. Its historic collection includes photographs from the first half of the 20th century capturing life in the nation’s capital, where National Geographic has been headquartered since it was founded in 1888.
Carroll Square Gallery is exhibiting “Photographs of Social Life in Washington, D.C., 1900-1960” from the National Geographic Collection. The show includes 30 black-and-white and sepia-tone images of ordinary people in everyday circumstances and experiencing significant American moments.
Detail of “A debutante foursome out for a stroll, beneath the cherry blossoms which border Potomac Park,” NGM 1923 | National Photo Company/National Geographic Image Collection
During almost the entire period from which the photographs are drawn, the city was segregated and by 1950 more than one-third of the population was black. Yet, the African American community is largely absent from this exhibition with a few exceptions in images that depict public events. With this important caveat, from Union Station, the Washington Monument and the White House to parks, beaches and Georgetown, the exhibit offers a window into the city’s storied history.
A collaboration with Hemphill Fine Arts, the exhibit coincides with two major photography events in Washington: the DC Fine Art Photography Fair (Oct. 5-7) and FotoWeek DC (Nov. 9-18).
The National Geographic collection is on view from Sept. 7 to Nov. 30, 2012 at Carroll Square Gallery, a public art space in the lobby level of 975 F Street NW. The gallery is sponsored by Akridge, the office building’s developer. All of the vintage photographs are for sale and modern prints of the images are also available.
All photos © Arts Observer
The exhibit included more than 30 photographs capturing Washington between 1900 and 1960.
“Conga While They Wait (for the end of World War II). Washington D.C.,” Photographer’s Field Notes, Aug. 14, 1945 | Acme News Pictures Inc./National Geographic Image Collection.
Detail of “Hanging On Behind: Through a Ford in Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C.,” NGM, October 1923 | Underwood and Underwood/National Geographic Image Collection.
“Seen from George Washington’s Monument, His City Spreads Out Like a Relief Map,” NGM, June 1947 | B. Anthony Stewart/National Geographic Image Collection.
Detail of “A Group of Tourists at the Foot of the Washington Monument Waiting for the Elevator,” NGM, March 1915 | Barnett Clinedinst Jr./National Geographic Image Collection.
Clockwise from right: View of Washington Monument from the Lincoln Memorial; Tourist Camp at Potomac Park; and the “Wanderlusters,” Washington’s Walking Club.
Detail of “Capitol Press Room, House Side,” Photographer’s Field Notes, May 1952 | Willard C. Culver/National Geographic Image Collection.
In foreground: “Vaulted Ceilings of the Union Station Echo to the Coming of the Great and Lowly,” NGM, April 1935 | Willard R. Culver and Edward Wisherd/National Geographic Image Collection.
“Tiers of Basins and Mirrors Solve Wash-hour Traffic at Kansas Hall,” NGM, September 1943 | B. Anthony Stewart/National Geographic Image Collection.
Detail of “Crowd watching the Inaugural Parade,” Photographer’s Field Notes, March 4, 1933 | Maynard Owen Williams/National Geographic Image Collection.