Clarendon Fire Department

Four women ride a stationary fire truck in Clarendon

Right click and "save as..." this link for the ultra-HD version. Zoom in to examine details.

This week's picture comes to us from the National Photo Company Collection at the Library of Congress. It's free to use, so you can make it into an indie wallet or t-shirt if you feel so inclined.

This jewel was snapped sometime between 1909 and 1920. A little digging reveals that the Clarendon Citizens Association was formed either in 1909 or 1912, depending on who you believe (the Virginia Room says 1909). By this point, electric trolley service and schools were already drawing new people to the area, much as Arlington's public school system and metro lines do today. In 1909, the association called for a fire station to be built.

Newspaper reports from the period show that the Citizens Association was meeting "in order that action might be taken toward obtaining 5-cent fares and more convenient schedules on the electric lines between this city [Washington], Clarendon, and Ballston."

On to the picture's unsolved riddles: Why does the station abut what must be the trolley tracks of the W&OD? Why put chains only on the rear tires? The door reads 101; what street? Why the smug expressions? Was it a chauvinistic joke to pose women on a fire truck?

As to the last question: the 1909 photographer might be surprised to know that Arlington would go on to hire the nation's first female career firefighter in 1974. Judith Livers retired from ACFD in 1999, having attained the rank of Battalion Chief.


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