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Parking Lot Series: U.S. Capitol Dome Restoration and Addition

This Parking Lot Series photo is dated 1960, and taken 57-years ago during a restoration of the cast iron dome and while an addition was built on the front of the US Capitol the building.

Back in the period when this image was shot, and well before modern day measures were taken to increase security at important US Government buildings, a driveway and a parking lot were located directly in front of the structure. Parked there is an interesting mix of 1940s to late-’50s automobiles, and possibly a few 1960 models.

Tell us what you find of interest in the photo via Daniel Strohl at Hemmings Daily, it is courtesy of the US Capitol.

23 responses to “Parking Lot Series: U.S. Capitol Dome Restoration and Addition

  1. Staring right at us on the right is another pesky little Renault Dauphine. My babysitter drove a black one. On the left, I spot a `54 Coupe DeVille with a nasty exhaust leak on the pass. side, leaving soot all over the back end.

  2. The thing that caught my eye was the Renault Dauphin in the front row, right of center. The French Ambassador’s car?

  3. My dad had a 4CV and later a Dauphine, remember the city horn and the country horn. Around that time I remember visiting the Capitol with my uncle, there was no security checkpoint and free access. The parking lot may contain employees or visitors.

  4. Fourth car from the left in the second row is a Peugeot 403 and there is a Volkswagen in the before last row, next to the 1959 Chevrolet station wagon.

  5. just one Beetle ,and the Dauphine,no MG’s or Jags ,Mercedes or anything exotic,was Washington very sober and sensible,and patriotic?

    • Gas was cheap, roads were long, why mess with a Furrin automobile when Americun Iron was better suited to the times.

  6. The Caddy is need of an exhaust system, as there should be TWO blotches of soot on the back. The exhaust exited out the bumper, and the left side is clearly gone, and the right side almost gone. That was a very common site. Obviously, they aren’t driving it very far, and the choke is still on.( or malfunctioning) Newest cars seem to be 1960, why would we need security at the Capitol,( one cop walking around, sure, it was a gravy job then, but now, no thanks) things were fine,,,well, for a while anyway.
    Oh, my old man had Dauphines, probably because he refused to buy any Italian, German, or Asian cars, so there wasn’t much left. I bet many folks bought Renault’s for that reason. They really were much better than the bug,( 4 doors, a real heater, kind of) and there’s always one in a parking lot around this time.

  7. Re; Security at the Capital,
    In 1990 I was looking for a parking place in DC and I parked my motorhome right in the street at the Capitol steps for the night.
    The only restriction was that I had to move it at 6AM.

    I wish that I had taken a picture of it.

  8. Did you see the 1955 jeep station wagon just in the second row right oppiste the Renault Dauphine,both was amazing auto’s to have and drive

  9. I’m wondering what the guy near the ’56 Pontiac in the center of the photo has done: He seems to be speaking with a very unimpressed policeman (arms folded) while the officer’s partner checks out something near the front of the car.
    Great photo, thanks for posting it!

  10. The Cadillac was in need of a Much Better Cadillac Driver! Note the angle as not being even close to parallel(!) —and that : It had all of the room in the world — to pull in straight — indicating to me that he or she was not used to any parking lot., or a Cadillac, —Ever!. NO matter what I have driven — size wise — since 1956, I have made it a point to not be a pain to my own paint or to that of others . Along with operating a larger than most others – car or truck — comes more responsibility! One can easily tell that this “driver” had little care for the vehicle or others!!! (And yes, I saw the black exhaust stain on one side ! The Cadillac is proving that it can survive — in spite of its “operator”!!! Edwin W.

  11. I`m not remembering how “amazing“ the Willys Jeep wagon was to drive,
    but how gutless they were with the std. 4 cyl. engine for everyday use on streets compared to normal station wagons. Very noisy engine and revving due to low gears and lots of shifting.

    Why people bought the neat Renault Dauphines was simply that they were really fun and easy to drive. They also offered a snappy auto trans. I got to drive a well worn one back in the hills near Bass Lake,CA in the early 60`s. It was a nice small car that I used to take customers back home from dropping off their cars for routine service at a gas station/garage. The little Renault was smooth and required very little maintenance. It was a little small on interior space but every bit as good as a Beetle. I think they lost their mojo with time and poor dealer support in the face of the huge VW and Toyota onslaughts. Most Americans wanted and needed full size cars for our needs back then.

    Lots of interesting makes and models. I spotted a `58 Ford wagon with those bulbous `58-only tail lights on the lower tail gate. Ford kept them off the 58 Ranchero tail gate (thankfully). Also spotted several mid to late 50s full size Mercurys in the big lot. Some of them quite large! (they totally dwarf the little Dauphine).

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