DC's Call Boxes


Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by Harris & Ewing, LC-DIG-hec-03392

Following the Civil War, Washington, D.C. connected its first call boxes to its fire department and later to its police headquarters. By 1891, all police precincts in the District contained patrol call boxes, and dozens of fire alarm call boxes were located across the city.

From their introduction until the 1970s, the call boxes served as a vital resource for the District’s emergency services. Their legacy continues to this day, adding cultural and historical value to the nation’s Capital. 

On the right, a photograph, taken between 1911 and 1920, showing a patrolman opening a oval-shaped police call box on D Street in Washington, D.C.

Below, a map showing the locations of call boxes across the District in 1891. Hover over the black boxes on the image to display more information.

All photographs reside within DDOT's collections, unless otherwise noted.

Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division