District: A Retrospective

I basically began trolling the inner streets of the nation’s capital as a means of playing “hooky” from clerical errands for my father. Particularly around the old Courts complex, ancient, boarded and crumbling brick hovels called out to this photographer to document them before they were to be thrown down in a flurry of masonry and lath debris.

As I roamed almost aimlessly at age 15- 16, I knew nothing, at the time, of Parisian street photographer M. Atget. I was only dimly aware of the beloved eccentric photo-surrealist Clarence Laughlin and his gauze-wrapped mannequins posing in heaps of antebellum rubble.

My photographs do not qualify nor quantify: they merely bring murky drams into crisp realization that all may enjoy- no matter how unschooled in the arts.

So, let us sit down, meet and pore over my visual record of all that is lovely and is now lost!

This radio was attached to the Translux (news reel theater chain) building at 14th and NY Avenue NW. Here you can see the sort of open skyline no longer present in D.C. | Photo by Chris Shaw
Two old school residents of Shaw lived on 8th Street NW between 11th and M. Their little house would be smack dab in the middle loading dock of the convention center today. | Photo by Chris Shaw
A crane lifts the roof off a house and 14th and M Streets NW on Thomas Circle. The house was originally built by Peter Lauritc, one of the pioneers for expanding borders of the city by building his home in a previously uninhabited area. 100 years later, tearing it down was the only thing they could do. | Photo by Chris Shaw

The Cowboy Poet’s photography was part of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C show “District,” on display at the historic Carnegie Library January 6 – February 27, 2016. More samples can be seen at www.ChrisEarnshaw.com.

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