Old Washington DC: See window shopping & street scenes in the 1920s

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Peoples Drug Store - Washington DC 1920

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If you’ve ever wondered what it might have been like to walk the streets of a major US city a hundred or so years ago, here’s a chance to take a peek at the streets of old Washington DC as they were back in the twenties.

Window shopping in Washington DC (1926)

By Mrs Harland H Allen – Evening Star (Washington, District of Columbia) December 1, 1926

We have always thought that women were the greatest window shoppers, but a test was made recently, and it was found that men are the predominant sex in window shopping.

It was also proved that men stare longer into any window than women do. The only exception was millinery windows.

Washington DC millinery - Hats (1927)

Window shopping has its advantages for men as well as for women. Many men and women work in offices during the day, and their only opportunity to shop during the week is at lunch time. After lunch, they may take a walk and while enjoying the relaxation, do some comparative shopping.

Suppose that the window shopper is your husband, and he wants to buy you a pair of gloves, or junior a new coat, or your daughter a cape.

It would take all of his spare time at lunch to look over the display of one store. By walking through the shopping district, he may see all varieties at all prices.

There is another advantage to window shopping for the man. Articles displayed in windows are usually placed on models, or so arranged as to suggest them in use. Men are generally unfamiliar with the requirements of women’s dress or children’s, and the display aids them in making their selection.

1920s shoppers in Washington DC

Again, many men are not up on fashions. Store windows are always abreast of the styles, and so a man can buy something “like the one in the window” without fear of making a mistake.

This is not only true of lines of clothing, but also of colors, skirt and coat lengths, and other things as well.

Of course, men window-shop for their own apparel. too. Men have definite ideas usually as to the type of clothing they will prefer. Different stores cater to different tastes, though some naturally appeal to many.

A man likes to feel that he can walk into a store and find the sort of apparel that meets his taste. Besides learning this, he also gets an idea as to which stores cater especially to one of his means, and which stores carry the trademarked or branded merchandise that he wants.

ALSO SEE: See some charming & classic All-American suburban houses from 1919

Of course, like every window shopper, he never knows, but some shop window will feature at an advantageous price the very thing he desires or needs.

Window shopping is an economical way to shop from the standpoint of time, and it acquaints one with shops and their stocks.

Anyone with the time to walk at lunch time has the time to window shop, and there is no more profitable way to spend one time while walking. If it is true that men do more of it than women, then women have a lesson to learn from the less experienced shopper.

Vintage 1920s street scene in Washington DC
A vintage 1920s street scene in Washington DC

Federal Clothing Store, 621 7th Steet (c1920)

Federal Clothing Store, 621 7th St c1920

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Horses with wagons on snow-covered District street (1925)

Horses with wagons on snow covered street, Washington DC - 1925


Peoples Drug Store in Washington DC (1920)

Peoples Drug Store - Washington DC 1920

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J C Harding & Co, Inc. electrical goods

“Housecleaning made easy” — appliances, radio, vintage vacuum cleaners and more

J C Harding & Co, Inc. electrical goods - DC 1920s


The Sport Mart – Washington DC (c1920)

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The Sport Mart - Washington DC c1920


Old cars parked in front of Penn Club, B Snyder and Superfine

Old cars parked in front of Penn Club, B Snyder and Superfine - Washington DC 1920s


A vintage 1920s drugstore window display

Alarm clocks, Klim Powdered Milk, and toothpaste in a drugstore display window, with “Your prescription” written in large letters along the top.

A vintage 1920s drugstore display in the shop window


R. Berberich’s Sons vintage shoe store (1925)

A display of Dr Scholl’s shoes and “foot comfort appliances” in the window of R. Berberich’s Sons, a shoe store in Washington, DC

R. Berberich's Sons vintage shoe store (1925) Dr Scholl's shoes


Victrolas & Victor Records at the old record store (1921)

Display window of Ansell, Bishop & Turner, Inc., a shop dealing in Victrolas and Victor records at 1221 F Street, NW, Washington, DC. “The June Victor records are here”

ALSO SEE: V is for Victrola record players: The history of the famous gramophones that entertained millions

Antique Victrolas for sale in the 1920s


Window display at O’Donnell’s drugstore

Featuring Coca Cola and Pond’s Extract products (between 1909 and 1932)

Window display featuring Pond's Extract products in O'Donnell's drugstore, probably DC no date


Raleigh Haberdasher show window (1925)

This vintage shop window from the 1920s sold a variety of hats for men

Raleigh Haberdasher show window (1925)

ALSO SEE: What vintage hats were popular in the 1940s? See 40 classic styles

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