Tag Archives: Pentagon

How Did One Get To The Pentagon? The Definitive Answer

One of our most popular blogs is “HOW DID ONE GET TO THE PENTAGON IN 1944?

I finally got the “real scoop” from Marie Early:

“I am 93 years old and went to work for the War Dept in Washington DC in June of 1941 five months before the start of WW II. I was 18 years old and had just graduated from high school. I was hired based on my civil service exam from Montana and I traveled across country by train to my first paying job. I was working in one of the first War Department offices that moved into the Pentagon after it was completed in 1943. I lived in NW Washington, D.C. and took the city bus to work every day via Pennsylvania Avenue to 14th Street across the Potomac on the 14th Street bridge. The road went under the Pentagon to the bus stop under the building where everyone got off.”

Guess I depended too muuch on rail and trolley experts.

1942WashingtonDCBusMap

Our featured image shows bus driver training

The company history does jive:
In 1933, all streetcars were brought under one company, Capital Transit. The streetcars began to scale back with the rising popularity of the automobile and pressure to switch to buses. After a strike in 1955, the company changed ownership and became DC Transit, with explicit instructions to switch to buses. The system was dismantled in the early 1960s and the last streetcar ran on January 28, 1962.

How did one get to the Pentagon in 1944?

Image

Recently, an author writing a book asked us how his “character” would have gone by train from Chicago to the Pentagon in 1944.The Pennsylvania Railroad (and all other railroads entering Washington DC) used Union Station. The formerly huge rail yard near the Pentagon, “Pot Yard”, was freight-only.

We took a look at DC Transit map and nothing shows as going across to the Pentagon. 1958 and 1944 are identical. This was the main trolley provider in DC. I confirmed this with .

Took a look at another map.

and found an interurban line that crosses the river at Arlington Junction and connects with DC Transit. So their MIGHT have been a rail route. But these interurbans were “on their knees” after the Depression and could not gear up to adequately serve the Pentagon. More discussion on topic:

I’m guessing the Army (did they control the Pentagon before there was a Department of Defense???) set up some bus routes. Probably a bus stop and a desk at Union Station?

Know the answer? Please comment.

See “Rails Around the Nation’s Capital”. A collection of articles about Railroads and Transit in and around Washington DC. Metro, Virginia Railway Express and Maryland DOT are covered. Also the Washington Terminal Railroad and other small railroads that were once a part of Washington.