The Washington Post Pays Tribute to the Capital Garage

Capital Garage, Washington, D.C., 1918
Photo: Library of Congress

The Capital Garage “was designed by Arthur B. Heaton, a District architect responsible for apartment buildings such as the Altamont in Kalorama and homes in Woodley Park. The limestone and glass facade was neo-Gothic, adorned with lion-headed grotesques near the top of the building. Stone bas-reliefs at the second story depicted then-modern cars, with their upright radiator grilles and dinner plate-sized headlamps,” wrote columnist John Kelly in the Washington Post this weekend, in a historical look back and tribute to what was once the largest parking structure in the U.S.

The 1,200 space opened in 1927 to crowds outside, gathered for a car race, not around but up the building–who could get to the top fastest?  Most drivers had never piloted their own vehicles up ramps like that, and the race, won by a Studebaker, allowed the city to show off its wondrous new structure while car dealers exhibited the climbing power of their vehicles.

The garage, which cost $.25 for two hours, featured a gas station, mechanic’s shop, car wash, and even cigar store, and was a wonder to behold.

The beautiful structure was, sadly, demolished in 1974; some of its ornate stonework lives on in panels at the Smithsonian Museum. Read about one of the country’s first, amazing parking garages here–it’s well worth the time.