Sunday, January 14, 2018

Houdini Magical Hall of Fame site today

Fellow "Houdini Nut" Stacey Zimmerman was recently in Niagara Falls, Canada, where he took this photo of the former site of the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame atop Clifton Hill. Today it is Ripley's Moving Theater 4D.

The Houdini Magical Hall of Fame first opened in June 1968 at 1019 Centre Street. Four years later it moved to this location at 4983 Clifton Hill, where it remained until a suspicious fire on the night of April 30, 1995 destroyed the original Water Torture Cell and closed the museum for good. Below is a photo I took during my one and only visit in 1990.

Thanks Stacey!



  1. Thanks, it's interesting to see what's at the site today. I visited the Houdini Hall of Fame just a few months before the fire, and although it was rather run down, I didn't see any overt signs of egregious neglect (then again, it was rather dark). The other nearby places -- wax museums, etc. -- seemed in a similar condition. Everything along the strip felt like it was from an era that was ending or had ended, and thus the Ripley Moving Theatre on the site now seems a logical outcome of that state of affairs. I went through the Hall of Fame more times than I can count during my stay, completely alone except for one or two times when there were a couple other visitors. Of course it was a complete thrill for me to be inside that place, up close and personal with so many Houdini treasures, but there was little outside to really explain Houdini or attract an unschooled passerby to come in and take a look. Updates like that, particularly using new technology, cost a lot of money, and clearly there was not much cash coming in.

    1. That well put that the museum felt like something from an ending or ended ear. In a way, it was like a Dime Museum of Houdini's time. I've often thought that this museum was the last stop for Houdini's show. Ironically, it ended where it started.

    2. Yes, "dime museum" is an interesting way to think of it. But the really cool thing about Houdini is that just when interest in him and what he accomplished seems to be waning, something happens and suddenly he's in the limelight again, strong as ever. It's almost as if he's still re-inventing himself almost a century after his death!

    3. I was saddened to hear it closed in '95. I was there with my fiancé in 70 before I felt for a med cruse in the US Navy.


  2. I was there in 1979 and again in 2010 with my kids. Simply put, it was Magical.....

    Vince J.G.