Friday, February 18, 2011

From the Archives I

The Silver Spring Historical Society recently acquired this cigarette lighter, which probably sat on an engineer's desk at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory during the 1950s or 60s.  The APL, as it was known, was located at 8621 Georgia Avenue from 1942 to 1976 when it was closed down.

According to Phillip R. Hays, PhD LT USNR-R, the AN/SPS-30 referred to on the lighter's plaque was a shipboard air search radar that had the ability to
determine altitude of a target as well as bearing and range.  This type of radar was often called a "3D" radar.

Such radar installations consisted of an antenna and pedestal, the transmitting and receiving equipment, and a control unit.  The control unit was something like a radio tuner for your home entertainment system.  It allowed the operator to adjust the operating characteristics of the radar set.

APL was most famously known for the development of the Proximity VT (Variable Time) Fuse, credited by military leaders as second in importance to the atomic bomb in ending WWII.  APL management must have had a penchant for making souvenirs for their employees after they completed a contract.  A souvenir VT fuse (it looks like a small missle) is owned by the Laurel Historical Society and Museum.

The vaguely art deco APL (shown here in a 1946 postcard) was razed sometime in the 1980s.  If anyone knows the exact year, please let me know.  For the past three decades the footprint of the structure has been used as a parking lot located next door to the Lee Building at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road.  This would have been a great building on Georgia Avenue's streetscape had it managed to survive, instead of the gapping hole we have long had to live with.

1 comment:

Chuck said...

Wow check out those cars parked out front of the building, they are parked perpendicular to the structure. As I remember that building sat at the established set-back from Georgia Ave for most buildings along that stretch. Don't tell me they were parking on the sidewalk. Glamorized postcard picture I know, but that was one of Silver Spring's great looking buildings, even if it had fallen on hard times before they tore it down. Wish I could help on the date of destruction.