Today, D.C. is digging out from its first snowfall of the year. We got about 4”- a bit more than expected- and it’s created havoc for schools, roads, and airports. Yes, yes, Washingtonians are called wimpy when it comes to dealing with snow. I personally think cancelling everything to stay home with hot chocolate and Netflix is a perfect way to deal with it, but that only adds fuel to the reputation.

I figure this was a good time to share some terrific photos of Washington during the snowstorm of January 1922. The city registered 28” of snow between January 27th &28th. These great pictures showing a heartier generation ice skating by the Lincoln Memorial, commuting through snowdrifts, and slogging down Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the Old Post Office are from the Harris & Ewing collection at the Library of Congress.

 

This was also called the Knickerbocker Storm. On Saturday evening, January 28th, just after 9pm, over 400 people were gathered to watch the silent film Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford at the Knickerbocker Theater in Adams Morgan. During intermission, the roof split in the middle, crashing through the balcony, and flattening portions of the brick walls onto the audience and musicians working in the orchestra (including Joseph Beal, the first violinist- and WWI veteran- who had been married just 3 days earlier). Ninety-eight people died in the collapse and 133 were injured. Rescue efforts were hampered by snow drifts up to 16 feet high.

 

web snow collpase jpg

 

Documentary filmmaker Jeff Krulik included this newsreel footage of the disaster in his film Twenty-Five Cents Before Noon:

 

For more info on the Knickerbocker:

A 2008 Washington Post article on the collapse: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitalweathergang/2008/01/the_great_knickerbocker_snowst_1.html

 

Lyman v. Knickerbocker Theatre Co., a case brought against the theater by the estate of one of the victims:

https://casetext.com/case/lyman-v-knickerbocker-theatre-co

 

 

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