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The Knickerbocker Storm: Historical Photos of the deadliest Blizzard in the Washington D.C. History

Knickerbocker remains the most devastating storm in Washington, D.C. history, both for the amount of snow it produced and for the human lives it claimed. Over the 24 hours from Friday afternoon, January 27, to Saturday afternoon, January 28, the storm itself produced snowfall rates of greater than one inch per hour. A 24-hour snowfall record of 25 inches was set during that period.

Twenty-eight inches of snow fell during the storm, more than any other storm in Washington, DC, weather records for over 130 years. In the days preceding the storm, temperatures were below freezing, so every flake stuck. Washington, D.C. had never seen a snowstorm as significant as that one (although the Washington-Jefferson Storm of 1772 has 36 inches of snow).

Between 300 and 1000 people were present in the  Knickerbocker Theater to watch the silent comedy ‘Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford’ during the storm. During the storm, massive amounts of snow accumulated on the roof of the Knickerbocker Theater, designed by Reginald Wycliffe Geare and owned by Harry Crandall. The heavy, wet snow eventually caused the top to split in half, bringing the balcony and a section of the wall crashing down. Dozens were buried, 98 theatregoers died, and 133 were injured. Congressman Andrew Jackson Barchfeld was one of those killed in the theatre. Reginald Wyckliffe Geare, the theatre’s architect and owner, Harry M. Crandall, committed suicide.

Below are some historical photos of the Knickerbocker Storm, 1922.

#1

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#2

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#4

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#5 A man walks through deep snow drifts near the Smithsonian Institution.

A man walks through deep snow drifts near the Smithsonian Institution.

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#6

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#19

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#20 Police, soldiers, and rescue workers examine the ruins of the Knickerbocker Theatre.

Police, soldiers, and rescue workers examine the ruins of the Knickerbocker Theatre.

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#21 Crowds gather outside the ruins of the collapsed Knickerbocker Theatre.

Crowds gather outside the ruins of the collapsed Knickerbocker Theatre.

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#22 Police, soldiers, and rescue workers examine the ruins of the Knickerbocker Theatre.

Police, soldiers, and rescue workers examine the ruins of the Knickerbocker Theatre.

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#23 Onlookers gather outside the Knickerbocker Theatre.

Onlookers gather outside the Knickerbocker Theatre.

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#24 Rescue workers remove a body from the Knickerbocker Theatre.

Rescue workers remove a body from the Knickerbocker Theatre.

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#25 Rescue workers remove a body from the Knickerbocker Theatre.

Rescue workers remove a body from the Knickerbocker Theatre.

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#26

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#27 Police inspect the wreckage after the end of rescue efforts.

Police inspect the wreckage after the end of rescue efforts.

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#28

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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