Nice Surprises
Church Street: New Hampshire Avenue Gospel Chapel

Call Box Art

Throughout DC are old, emptied call boxes, used to call the police and fire departments in the days before telephones. They fell out of use decades ago, of course, but many still remain, sentinels of the past.

Over the last few years, Cultural Tourism DC sponsored an effort called Art on Call, enabling artists to transform the boxes into urban canvases, neighborhood by neighborhood.

I noticed one just the other day, as I was walking to lunch.


Here's a closer look.


I love how the light shines through the scene. It's tough to see the details, but it combines city views with natural elements, all in golds and greens. Here's what the note underneath the call box says:

The National Bureau of Standards

In 1901, the National Bureau of Standards began developing a large complex of 89 buildings on 70 acres west of Connecticut Avenue near this site. The NBS was devoted to testing new materials and establishing industry standards. The NBS physicists developed radio technology, which led to guiding airplanes with radio waves.

This artistic work reflects the history of technological scientific research in the Van Ness neighborhood and natural beauty of Rock Creek Park.

Artist: Anna Glist, Burke School

Art on Call is sponsored by Cultural Tourism DC, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the District Department of Transportation and Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.

Additional Sponsors: Councilmember Mary Cheh, Advisory Neighborhood Commission #F, The Forest Hills Neighborhood Alliance, and Duron and Sherwin-Williams Paint.

The Call Boxes in Forest Hills are located at Albemarle and 30th Street, Albemarle and Linnean, Connecticut and Tilden, Connecticut and Windom, Ellicott and 30th Place, Tilden and Linnean, and the 2900 block of Upton Street.

I hope that one day every call box is a little piece of urban art.