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. a photo of a tiny house in Oregon
    Design

    How Amazon Could Transform the Tiny House Movement

    Could the e-commerce giant help turn small-home living from a niche fad into a national housing solution?

  2. The downtown St. Louis skyline.
    Perspective

    Downtown St. Louis Is Rising; Black St. Louis Is Being Razed

    Square co-founder Jack Dorsey is expanding the company’s presence in St. Louis and demolishing vacant buildings on the city’s north side.

  3. an aerial view of Los Angeles shows the complex of freeways, new construction, familiar landmarks, and smog in 1962.
    Transportation

    The Problem With Amazon’s Cheap Gas Stunt

    The company promoted its TV show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with a day of throwback 1959-style prices in Los Angeles. What could go wrong?

  4. a photo of the L.A. Metro Expo Line extension
    Life

    Why Can’t I Take Public Transit to the Beach?

    In the U.S., getting to the beach usually means driving. But some sandy shores can still be reached by train, subway, and bus.

  5. Warren Logan
    Transportation

    A City Planner Makes a Case for Rethinking Public Consultation

    Warren Logan, a Bay Area transportation planner, has new ideas about how to truly engage diverse communities in city planning. Hint: It starts with listening.

×