The Washington Syndicate

Do you remember the Knickerbocker Storm of 1922?

Posted in Uncategorized by jmullerwashingtonsyndicate on February 5, 2010



As the snow begins to accumulate The Washington Syndicate takes a look back more than 88 years ago when the apocalyptic Knickerbocker Storm blizzarded and ravaged the metro area and entire eastern seaboard in 1922.     

The snow which began on Jan. 26 did not stop until the morning of January 29, with an official snow depth of 28 inches, a single storm snowfall record for Washington, D.C. that still stands today. A snow depth of 33 inches was measured in Rock Creek Park, three miles to the north of Washington’s official weather station, according to     

On January 28 at 9pm EST during an intermission for the 1916 silent film Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford the flat roof of the 1,700 seat Knickerbocker Theatre at 18th & Columbia Road NW collapsed resulting in 98 deaths and 133 injuries. The rescue effort swelled to more than 600 people by 2:30am. Among the killed in one of the city’s worst tragedies was States Congressman Andrew Jackson Barchfield, a republican from Pennsylvania.     

The original theatre was built in 1917 and was then rebuilt in 1923 and christened the Ambassador Theatre by psychedelic shows for hippies and up and coming national rock-n-roll acts which included the Jimi Hendrix Experiance in July 1967. The Ambassador was razed in September 1969.     

How will we remember our current storm so as to not confuse with last March’s “Day of the Ugg Boots 2009?”     

Also from: NY Times (PDF circa 1922 article), Capital Weather Gang, Topper Shutt, DCist, Washington Kaleidoscope (great pictures),  BiblioMarket, Park View DC  (rare vintage youtube video of Knickerbocker), DC Public Policy Examiner, The Hill is Home

Special thanks to Matt Gilmore & H-DC  listerv for several of the great above links!  

Soldiers removing dead and injured from the Knickerbocker Theatre, after its roof collapse, January 28, 1922. Courtesy of Historical Society of Washington.

Scene after the January 28, 1922 collapse of the roof of the Knickerbocker Theatre at Columbia Road and 18th Street NW. Courtesy of Historical Society of Washington

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2 Responses

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  1. Jamilah F. said, on February 5, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Love the pictures!

  2. Elizabeth B. Kenyon said, on February 7, 2010 at 2:14 am

    This happened before I was born. My mother was invited by friends, an elderly couple who attended her church, to go to the Knickerbocker Theatre with them that night, but she decided against it because of the snow. Her two friends were killed when the roof collapsed.

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