Washington, DC Knickerbocker Theatre Roof Collapse - Roof Falls

Inside of Theater after Bodies were removed Outside of Theater soon after collapse


Ninety-Two of Bodies Recovered, Identified - More Than Hundred Injured - Number of Dead Prominent in Official Life - Most of Killed Found in Pit Beneath Wreckage of Balcony.

Washington, Jan. 29.-- The list of known dead in the Knickerbocker Theatre disaster was brought to 112 late tonight when a canvass of the city hospitals and of the emergency medical stations had been completed. This was said to include all the bodies recovered from the ruins of the theatre.

The list of injured totalled[sic] 134 to-day, and of these 14 were recorded as having sustained serious hurts.

Caught beneath the falling beams which had been designed to act as traverse supports for the roof, scores were taken to hospitals suffering from broken limbs or severe internal injuries. In many cases the victims, if they recover, will be maimed for life.

Of the dead, 92 had been identified at dark tonight. The large majority of the victims, both killed and injured, were residents of Washington, although many came recently from other places.

Exploration of the ruins continued after dark, but those in charge believed few additional bodies would be found. Without regard to their own risk, soldiers, marines, sailors, police, firemen and citizen volunteers had fought their way beneath the wreckage over practically the whole floor space of the auditorium.

The exact number in the theatre when the steel and concrete roof buckled and fell under its three-foot load of snow probably never will be known. The stories of perhaps a hundred who got out unijured have been reported. These account for a few more than 300 in the audience that was roaring in laughter at a film comedy when the roof fell on them like a blanket, carrying down the front of the wide balcony in its crash.

Normally the theatre has had every seat filled at that hour and nearly 2,000 persons was its capacity. The same unprecedented snowfall which brought death to the venturesome few kept the many at home. Street car traffic had been abandoned and streets and sidewalks were all but impassable with drifts.

There has been no time as yet for official inquiry as to the cause of the disaster. The ruins themselves disclose, however, that the entire mass of steel held concrete that formed the roof had come down.

The crash swept the supports out from under the balcony, apparently, and this hinged down at an angel of 45 degrees adding to the tangled mass of wreckage on the floor below.

The building stands in an acute corner at Eighteenth street and Columbia Road northwest, the heart of the most favored residence section of the city. The narrow niche of the stage on which the screen was hung was backed into the corner angle, while to the left from the stage the line of the auditorium wall runs in a straight line for some 200 feet down Eighteenth street. To the right the wall follows the slow curve of Columbia Road for about the same distance and at the far end, parelling[sic] the stage front, the back wall completes the auditorium proper also about 200 feet in length.

Lowville Journal & And Republican New York 1922-02-02