When the capital gets a snowstorm, Washingtonians famously lose their cool: runs on milk and bread, kids eager for school closures, and drivers sliding and slipping on icy streets. The House Collection contains more than 150 years’ worth of images of Capitol Hill covered in snow. Here’s the countdown of History, Art & Archives’ top five fan favorites:
The steep angle of Capitol Hill transformed into the perfect slope for sledding in 1938. A late November storm brought out five adventurous Washingtonian coasters. Hats pushed back, knees bent, and gloved hands gripping the freezing rails, these young sliders zipped through the first snow of the season, coasting to a stop on a flat stretch.
The Capitol dome made a perfect backdrop for postcards from Washington. Hundreds of different views were produced over the decades, including this one from the early 1900s. In springtime, tourists snatched up versions with cherry blossoms. In winter, however, a more austere souvenir framed the Capitol with snow-covered boughs.
A snowy night’s silence is almost palpable in this postcard. The Library of Congress’s lamps frame the Capitol, while a puddle reflects the bright dome. Photographer Oscar Buckingham tiptoed across the icy terrace to capture the image: frozen shards rim the puddle’s edges and a thin rope across the stairs holds a sign directing visitors to a less treacherous entrance.
A lone wanderer took in the scene during a February snowfall in 1923. In this melancholy photograph, a light dusting drifted onto the pavement of the Capitol’s columned portico. In the distance, however, the snow’s intensity hides the huge bulk of the Library of Congress—just across the street beyond the Capitol grounds—almost entirely.
This 1926 photograph, taken facing east from the foot of Capitol Hill, inspired a news caption writer to flights of rhetorical fancy: “The dome of the Capitol rises majestically out of the ‘Wonderland’ of crystal white, into which the snow has converted Capitol Park.”Follow @USHouseHistory