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Video Footage from 1922 Knickerbocker Theater Collapse in Adams Morgan

by Prince Of Petworth January 30, 2014 at 1:30 pm 18 Comments

Thanks to a reader for sending last night:

“Knickerbocker Theater at 18th and Columbia. Happened on today’s date in 1922. 108 People died.”

From the History Channel:

“Accumulated snowfall from a blizzard collapses the Knickerbocker Theatre in Washington, D.C., on this day in 1922.

By Saturday night, things were beginning to return to normal, and some 300 people attended a movie at Knickerbocker Theatre, at the corner of 18th Street and Columbia Road. In the middle of the film, the accumulated snow on the theater’s roof collapsed the building and tons of steel and concrete fell down on top of the theatergoers. One hundred and eight people were killed, including five in a single family. Another 133 were hospitalized. Rescuers worked through the night to pull out the injured from beneath the rubble.

President Warren Harding issued his personal condolences to the families of the victims, which included a former congressman. A subsequent investigation by Army engineers blamed poor construction materials for the collapse.”

  • Anonymous

    @1:51 you can see the old house that was swallowed up by the current Stroga building!

  • jmc

    That’s film footage, not video footage :)

  • MRD

    Old timers say that corner is cursed. I’m pretty sure there was a story about it on This American Life back in the 90s.
    Of all the businesses that have been there, I think the current Starbucks has had the longest run.

    • MRD
    • Irving Streete

      I think you have the wrong side of the street. Looking at the pictures it appears that theater was on the opposite side of Columbia from where the Starbucks now stands, and the not-always-reliable Wikipedia has a picture of the Sun Trust Bank captioned “Former site of the Knickerbocker Theater.” I, too had heard that the Starbucks site was “cursed,” from the old guy who owned Comet Liquors, but he did not invoke the Knickerbocker disaster.

      • MRD

        You’re right–sorry about that.
        Still a pretty interesting history of that corner

      • textdoc

        “Mr. Sid” of Comet Liquors? R.I.P.

  • Anonymous

    Check out the awesome street car! 4 cars long! :-o

  • Anonymous

    What’s on that corner now? I can’t seem to figure it out… Is that where the bank is now? Or where the Starbucks is?

    • hma

      Must be the starbucks corner. At 2:07, you can see the streetcar, which I thought only ran up/down 18th st.

    • Anonymous

      SunTrust bank

    • saf

      The bank.

  • styglan1dc

    How much snow fell and/or had accumulated? Mainly curious when we need to start freaking out during the next snowpocalypse.

    • Anonymous

      I’m guessing you don’t have anything to worry about.

  • gpenn

    That winter, the church where I now work, All Souls Church Unitarian, was still under construction at the corner of 16th & Harvard, and the congregation, already out of its previous building, was worshiping on Sunday mornings at the Knickerbocker. Had the roof held out just a few hours longer, it would have been those church-goers who were killed. A major tragedy in any case.

  • Anonymous

    98 ppl killed, not 108

  • klm

    My great aunt was in that theater the night of the disaster and survived. She was found a day or two later wondering the streets, suffering from a concussion…


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