Washington Navy Yard - Comments on 1860s Views


This page features comments on the locations shown in certain 1860s era views of the Washington Navy Yard.

In August 1997, the Photographic Section received a letter from a Japanese history teacher who was interested in determining the exact location where the Japanese Mission to the United States was photographed in 1860, when they landed at the Washington Navy Yard (see Photo # NH 51119).

This, plus our long-standing curiosity about exactly what was shown in Brady's June 1866 photographs (see Photo #s: NH 57928, NH 57931, NH 57932, NH 57933, NH 57934, NH 57935, NH 57936, NH 57937, NH 57938, NH 57939, NH 57940, NH 57941, NH 57942, NH 57943, NH 57944, NH 57944-A, and NH 57944-B) led to a detailed analysis of those photographs, contemporary and modern plans of the Washington Navy Yard, as it was at that time. This enabled us to conclusively determine where these photographs were taken and what remains of the buildings they show.

The photographs were all taken in the northwestern quater of the 1860s Navy Yard, or in its waterfront area. They are keyed to the following plans:

  • Plan # 1, which shows the Washington Navy Yard as it was in 1866, with substantial buildings shaded.
  • Plan # 2, which shows the same part of the Washington Navy Yard as it was in the 1980s and 1990s, for purposes of comparison with Plan # 1. There are differences of scale and proportion between these two drawings, but these are not critical.
  • Plan # 3, which shows the northwestern portion of the 1866 Washington Navy Yard, with camera locations & angles annotated for most of the photographs.
  • Plan # 4, which shows the southern (waterfront) portion of the 1866 Washington Navy Yard, with camera locations & angles annotated for photo #s NH 57928, NH 57929 (possibly taken at another time), NH 57930 (taken many years after 1866) and NH 57944-A.

Of the many buildings seen in these photographs and on Plan # 1, only the "Quadrangle" (Building #s 33 & 36), Building # 22 and Quarters H remained in 1997. The Quadrangle is still similar to its 1866 external appearance, though it was massively altered internally during the later 1990s. Building # 22 appears to have had its walls and roof raised, and during the 20th Century another building was erected attaching the north side of the Quadrangle to Building # 22's south side. Quarters H has been quite substantially changed from its 1866 appearance.





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