What one photographer discovered documenting life between the Nation's Capital and the Mason Dixon Line.

Before I-95 became America's primary North-South highway along the Atlantic, many drivers relied on Route 1 to get from city to city between Key West, Florida, and Fort Kent, Maine. 

Completed in the 1920s, Route 1 (and many other pre-WW II roads) lost relevance three decades later, when the federal government began building its vast interstate network.

Long before, photographer Jack Delano took to the road. In June 1940, he shot along the Maryland and Washington, D.C., portion, capturing a snapshot of what life was like back then. His results are in turn charming (ice cream stands with polar bear sculptures) and shameful (truckers sleeping under their vehicles because of discriminating service stations).

Courtesy the Library of Congress's Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information photography collection, here's a look at what Delano discovered:

"Truckers at Capital truck comfort station on New York Avenue. U.S. No. 1, Washington, D.C." Taken by Jack Delano, June 1940. Courtesy Library of Congress.
"One-spot town on U.S. Highway No. 1 near Waterloo, Maryland." Taken by Jack Delano, June 1940. Courtesy Library of Congress.
"An auto repair shop along U.S. 1, between Washington, D.C. and Laurel, Maryland." Taken by Jack Delano, June 1940. Courtesy Library of Congress.
"Ice cream stand on U.S. Highway No. 1, Washington, D.C." Taken by Jack Delano, June 1940. Courtesy Library of Congress.
"Fanbelts for sale at a truck service station on U.S. 1 (New York Avenue), Washington, D.C." Taken by Jack Delano, June 1940. Courtesy Library of Congress.
"Diner along U.S. Highway No. 1 near Berwyn, Maryland." Taken by Jack Delano, June 1940. Courtesy Library of Congress.
"Advertisement on U.S. 1 between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland." Taken between 1935 and 1942. Courtesy Library of Congress.
"Untitled photo, possibly related to: Negro driver asleep under a truck. There are no sleeping accommodations for Negroes at this service station. On U.S. 1" Taken by Jack Delano, June 1940. Courtesy Library of Congress.
"Advertisement on U.S. 1 on outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland." Taken between 1935 and 1942. Courtesy Library of Congress. 
"Carnival along U.S. Highway No. 1 at Cottage City, Maryland." Taken by Jack Delano, June 1940. Courtesy Library of Congress.
"'We wreck anything!' Auto graveyard near Sulphur Springs, Maryland, on U.S. Highway No. 1." Taken by Jack Delano, June 1940. Courtesy Library of Congress.
"Grave monuments along U.S. Highway No. 1 outside Baltimore, Maryland." Taken by Jack Delano, June 1940. Courtesy Library of Congress.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    The Problem With 'Fast-Casual Architecture'

    Washington, D.C., has a huge new waterfront development that’s fun, popular, and easy on the eyes. Is anything wrong with that?

  2. A man walks his bicycle beside a train in Paris.
    Maps

    Breaking Down the Many Ways Europe's City-Dwellers Get to Work

    One chart shows which cities do best when it comes to biking, walking, or taking public transit to work.

  3. Equity

    How a Fart Became Berlin's Weirdest Policing Scandal

    It's taken an incredible amount of resources to get to the bottom of this one.

  4. Maps

    Mapping Where Europe's Population Is Moving, Aging, and Finding Work

    Younger people are fleeing rural areas, migrating northward, and having fewer children. Here’s how that’s changing the region.

  5. Design

    Experimental City: The Sci-Fi Utopia That Never Was

    With solar energy, recycling, computers, and personal mass transit, the 1960s-era Minnesota Experimental City was a prescient and hopeful vision of the urban future. A new documentary tells its story.