Monday, April 29, 2013

Houdini escapes D.C.

Here's a nice way to wrap-up coverage of the Washington Symposium on Magic History. My friend and fellow Houdinite, Jeff Abraham, alerts me to this photo of Houdini's suspended straitjacket escape in Washington, D.C. on January 12, 1922. You'll notice this is different from the more familiar shot showing him bound in the jacket. In this photo he has just broken free!

This is an original 4 X 5 photograph that's available for purchase at Gotta Have It! for $1,950. Handwritten in pencil on the back is, "Return to, BML Ernst, 25 W.43rd St. NYC." (Bernard Ernst was Houdini's lawyer.)

That's a pretty steep price for an unsigned photo, if you ask me. But, hey, it's Washington, it must be inflation!

Thank you Jeff.

UPDATE: The Gotta Have It! auction states this is Houdini doing a suspended jacket escape in front of the Washington Herald newspaper building. But this is actually the B.F. Keith's Theater in the Riggs Building on the southeast corner of 15th and G Streets.


  1. That's too funny. I was going to let you know about the photo as well. But the one I saw was an original from the handbook given out at the D.C. Symposium on Magic History.

    1. Ha! That is funny. I'd never seen this pic before.

  2. Hi! I am puzzled about something and hope you can help me out. I'm reading Kalush and Sloman's Houdini biography, in which they refer to Houdini doing his hanging straight jacket escape in DC in April, 1916, suspended from the "Munsey Building" on Pennsylvania Ave. The Munsey Trust Building was not on Penn Ave, I think. A contemporary newspaper story about the event from The Washington Times mentions both the Times Building (also not on Penn?) and a Munsey Building. Do you know which building he actually performed the stunt at?

    I'm confused!


    1. Hi Leah. I haven't been able to come up with a good answer for you. Maybe Dean Carnegie will see this. He really knows his Houdini/D.C. history. Or maybe ask him via his site: