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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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Knickerbocker Disaster: 1922

Knickerbocker Disaster: 1922

Jan. 29, 1922. Washington, D.C. "Knickerbocker after collapse." Aftermath of the Knickerbocker Theater disaster, in which the snow-laden roof of Harry Crandall's cinema at Columbia Road and 18th Street caved in, killing 98 moviegoers. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

My Great Aunt

My Great Aunt Veronica Murphy died in the disaster along with her fiancé.


The theater must have looked absolutely garish in the daylight.

Newsreel footage of the disaster:

Soldiers from Fort Myer

A similar photograph appeared in the Washington Herald for January 30, with the caption: “Frantically working to dig the entombed victims from the twisted mass of steel, wood and concrete at the Knickerbocker tragedy, soldiers from Fort Myer worked until a late hour this morning with the hope of recovering the last of the bodies. One hundred and fifty soldiers are seen here, under the leadership of Maj. George Patton, of Fort Myer, Va., striving to move the heavy debris from the bodies....”

Comedy Tragedy

At the time of the collapse, a comedy, "Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford" (directed by auteur Frank Borzage) was being screened. Five years later, the theater's architect, Reginald Geare, committed suicide.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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