Washingtonians at Play
Unchanging pastimes in a changing dc
Senate Beer Label
Washington, D.C. has always been a thirsty town. For generations, that thirst was whetted by the city's biggest brewery, Christian Heurich Brewing Company. Founded in 1872 by immigrant Christian Heurich, the brewery churned out German-style lagers until Prohibition forced a switch to ice production. After the repeal of the 18th Amendment, the company bounced back by reviving one of its original brews, Senate Beer, as its flagship brand. This Senate Beer label from the 1930s hails the return of the hometown hero and its storied, medaled past.
Heurich Brewery Workers with Steins
If you weren't drinking Heurich beer as a Washingtonian, chances were you were making Heurich beer. By the early 1940s, the Christian Heurich Brewing Company had become the city's second largest employer, just behind the federal government. Its massive Foggy Bottom brewery rolled out kegs on the site where the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts stands now. In this photo, likely from the 1930s, Heurich employees demonstrate there's no need to make the hard choice between making and drinking Heurich beer.
Existing Liquor Licenses, D.C., December 14, 1936
The odds of finding a nearby bar in Washington have shifted with time. This brief list shows how the issuing of liquor licenses had changed from the 1880s to the 1930s. The contrast is clear: In the late 19th century, the city was awash with booze.
Location of Saloons in Downtown Washington
In case there was any doubt, this postcard shows the density of saloons in downtown Washington during that golden era. It's a wonder any congressman made it to work.
Honest John’s Palace Saloon
Given the stiff competition, saloons jockeyed to stand out from the rest. One way to capture the public's attention was through trade cards – colorful predecessors to the modern business card that were popularized in the late 19th century. This trade card advertises a saloon and wine/tobacco import business that once stood near the Georgetown University campus on 35th Street. If the tag-line on the back is to be believed, the spot was a blessed one.