Throughout The Americans, Philip and Elizabeth often perform operations out of these random garages throughout DC. Much of the final arc revolves around these garages.

Can someone explain how these garages work (or worked)? My US city doesn't have small one-car garages throughout the city you can rent. Who would use these garages? They're often portrayed as in the poorer parts of town.

  • 1
    Are sure these are garages and not storage units?
    – Paulie_D
    Dec 6, 2018 at 18:12
  • @Paulie_D, No Azor is right. They are often garages, abandoned warehouses, and/or dingy underground parking lots that a good chunk of both pre & post operation scenes occur. But Philip and & Elizabeth seem to have one in particular that Elizabeth uses a lot during the final season. Dec 6, 2018 at 18:30
  • We do know that the Russians buy property to use through out the series, including Gabriel's meeting house(s) and that they use fake identities to buy cars from the wanted adds. I'm not sure how they find these other places to use and/or how realistic it is that Washing DC area would have that many unkempt places to use the 80's?? Dec 6, 2018 at 18:33
  • @Paulie_D They're explicitly called garages frequently ... plus they're not really in storage complexes. Does DC have random street-level storage units all over? Dec 6, 2018 at 19:46
  • You're comparing the current situation (mid/late 2010s) to the late 1970s/early 1980s, 35 years ago. Lots of things have changed since then. Also: businessinsider.com/how-realistic-is-the-americans-2013-4
    – BCdotWEB
    Dec 7, 2018 at 10:47

1 Answer 1


I've lived in Washington, DC, for a long time but haven't seen The Americans, so I was going to leave a comment asking for a screenshot of the garages you're talking about, but I realized I don't have the reputation on this SE to leave a comment. However, from your description of single-car garage buildings that look like they're in rough parts of town, I think I know what you might be referring to.

It sounds like you're describing the back-alley garages that can be found behind rowhouses/duplexes in neighborhoods built back in the early 20th century or earlier, when the houses weren't built with the expectation that people would have a car, so some of the homeowners built their own small garages facing the alley in back of the house.

Nowadays many homeowners still use these garages as originally intended, while others use them as workshops or storage spaces and still others will make a little extra money by renting them out for other people to use. This isn't just a "DC thing" but pretty common in the neighborhoods from that era in a lot of US and Canadian cities.

Here's an example of an alley I'm familiar with in DC:

Back alley with garages

You can see the garage in the foreground has had its garage walled off with a regular door for entering, so it's probably used as a workshop or something now, while there's another garage in the background. This alley might look pretty dilapidated, but it's really not a particularly bad neighborhood; this is what the same houses look like from the street side:

Rowhouses along a street

And it's certainly possible that these are being rented out; here is an example of a single-car garage in DC being offered for rent, presumably by a homeowner looking for some extra cash.

Like I said, this seems common in this type of oldish neighborhood in the US and Canada in my experience; it's quite possible your city has plenty of these too in neighborhoods from that era and you just never went down a back alley to see them.

  • Hmmmm that could be, but it seems like a lot of the ones in The Americans are in short rise buildings Dec 9, 2018 at 3:38
  • We have a lot of neighborhoods like that here in KC too. I think that's just a common thing to see in many of the US' larger cities that will have older neighborhoods (especially a city as old as DC!). It's just a common attribute. So what kind of better place to meet in then a garage with no phone lines, usually no electrical, and not as obvious as a house/apartment. Dec 11, 2018 at 18:31

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