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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.

 

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My Great Aunt

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

Newsreel

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.

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