The grounds of the U.S. Capitol have played host to millions of visitors, not to mention every flavor of celebrations and demonstrations. But it’s not often that you see a car parts strewn across the Capitol’s well-groomed grounds. Reference librarian Jon Eaker spotted this photo among photographs recently digitized from the U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection and noted “When I first saw this photo I had no idea why it was taken or who the men were. I just liked the rather surreal view of a car in pieces in front of the Capitol on a nice spring day while two men sit on the car seat discussing something.”
With a little digging, Jon found a New York Times article from May 1, 1969 that filled in the story. During “an informal meeting of the Senate Antitrust and Monopoly Subcommittee” Edward P. Williams, Ford division service manager (left) and Michigan Senator Philip A. Hart (right) illustrated how easy it was to dismantle the new Ford Maverick, making it cheaper for mechanics or do-it-yourselfers to make repairs. So the point was progress, not destruction!
Cars are on our minds this week, because down the hill from the U.S. Capitol building, historic cars are going on display (wonderfully intact–not in pieces!) on the National Mall. The Historic Vehicle Association is staging its 5th annual Cars at the Capital automotive heritage exhibit, featuring the newest cars to be added to the National Historic Vehicle Register.
To add to the celebration, the Library’s current “free to use and reuse” offering invites viewers to hit the road with images of classic cars, race cars, and steam-powered cars from the Library’s collections. It’s a care-free, fuel-free way to enjoy a trip down automotive memory lane.
- In addition to images selected for the “free to use and reuse ” set, take a spin through the variety of vehicles and vehicle-related images that turn up when you search the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog for cars automobiles no known restrictions.
- Vehicles that are added to the National Historic Vehicle Register are being documented with professionally created photographs and measured drawings that are added to Historic American Engineering Register. Read last year’s blog post about the initiative, Start Your Engines: The National Historic Vehicle Register and view the documentation so far available. For more about the display on the National Mall, see the Historic Vehicle Association site.
- When Jon investigated the car parts photo, he discovered that it was never published in U.S. News & World Report that year–1969 being full of events that evidently took precedence. Have a look at some of the topics the U.S. News & World Report photographers covered that year.
- Revisit photos of another occasion when cars took a prominent place in photos of the U.S. Capitol building and other Washington, D.C., landmarks: “Pictures to Go: Capital Cars.”