Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Rare footage of Houdini's first D.C. street stunt

On April 19, 1916, Houdini did a suspended straitjacket escape in front of the Washington Post's Munsey building at Pennsylvania & E. Streets in Washington, D.C. Unlike his more well-known escape at the Riggs building in 1923, I've never been able to find any photographs of this first stunt. However, I recently did one better. I found film!

This footage has never been shown and it's unique among footage of Houdini's straitjacket escapes in that it's captured from a distance, out beyond the crowd. It almost makes one feel like a time traveler witnessing a Houdini escape by accident. It's also a wonderful document of Washington D.C. on this day in 1916. Wild stuff.

You can watch the footage as a member of my Patreon by clicking below.

If you're not a member of my Patreon and don't want to join at this time, below is an account of the escape from the Evening Star. Not quite as good as film, but still pretty good! While all the advertising stated that Houdini would hang from the Munsey building, this account correctly reports what we see in the film -- that he was actually suspended from the newer building next door.

Evening Star, April 19, 1916.

Here's another newspaper gem. The Evening Times gave Houdini and themselves a pat on the back for out drawing President Wilson that day.

Below are links to more exclusive films clips on my Patreon.



  1. The Gothic building is next to the modern looking building on the right. It's one of those features you can see in outdoor Houdini photos. The architectural transition from the 19th century to the more modern 20th.

    1. Indeed. Those three buildings side by side kind of provide a chronicle of the American "skyscraper."