The company financed construction of the $6 million L Street headquarters using loans provided by Graham’s parents. The new buildings had air conditioning, but Graham recounted a melancholy scene when it came time to move. “There was a very alcoholic, emotional party as everyone finally left the old E Street building behind. The party — more of a wake, actually — was, as someone put it, to ‘mourn the death of a building’ which, with all its inconvenient horrors, was still much loved.”
The move in 1950, however, set the stage for the paper’s evolution into a journalistic force, and in its heyday, subjects of its coverage were known to wait outside for the first edition to roll off the presses. The fifth-floor newsroom was later canonized in the 1976 film about Watergate coverage, “All the President’s Men,” which inspired a generation of future journalists but did not feature the actual newsroom, at Graham’s insistence. Filmmakers instead constructed a Hollywood replica featuring details down to the stickers on the desk of then-Executive Editor Ben Bradlee’s secretary.