I've been planning on running home from my next stop for DAYS now. DAYS, I tell you. But on Friday I ate some questionable seafood, which made for an...interesting...Saturday. Sunday I could pretend was tainted with further food poisoning, but really it was around 12 degrees outside and I had imbibed a few too many litres at the Biergarten Haus the night before. By the time the temperature warmed up to reasonable, it was Tuesday. I decided to wake up yesterday morning and git 'er done, as it were. I woke up to an inch of snow. And sleet coming down out of the sky. For anyone who doesn't live in Washington (and even then, if you haven't watched the news all day), we just had a fairly epic snowstorm. Epic not because we got an insurmountable amount of snow, but because we definitely experienced the phenomenon known as THUNDERSNOW and because the snow (as it usually does) has caused mass chaos in the entire DC metro area.
Capital Weather Gang recently, due to the recent snowstorm in all of its glory. (For what it's worth, the CWG guys were right on the money with their forecast of this storm.) It was while reading one of their storm-related blog posts that I saw a reference to something I had never heard of before: the Great Knickerbocker Storm.
The title of the storm alone raises questions. What did the storm have to do with a basketball team from New York? Nothing, of course. In 1922, DC had a storm that for all intents and purposes developed much like the one that hit the region yesterday...it even hit on almost the same days of the year. However, this one ended quite differently: it was the largest single-day snowfall in DC history, at 28 inches. It also did a lot more than snarl up traffic and leave people without electricity (not that those would have been major problems in 1922). It caused one of the worst disasters in Washington history, which I doubt many Washingtonians even know about. The Knickerbocker Theater, then located at 18th St and Columbia Ave (where there is a bank now, across the street from the worst McDonald's in history), was a shiny new movie house with an unfortunately flat roof. During a screening of a movie on January 28, 1922, the roof collapsed, weighed down by the feet of snow that had accumulated during the storm. In all, 133 people were injured and 98 killed, including a congressman. The architect and the owner of the theater both later committed suicide, no doubt blaming themselves in some way for the incident.
This story, while terrible in its own right, has also made me realize the potential shortcomings of my project. Even on a run that crossed 18th and Columbia, I would never have photographed the nondescript bank that stands where the Knickerbocker once stood, and likely wouldn't have discovered this story if it weren't for my obsessive weather-checking habits. DC isn't even a very old city in the world scheme, but there are still so many pieces of its history and character that I may not uncover, even in a decade of exploration. Sad face. But I'm not discouraged...I'm only one person and I just set out to see things I'd never seen before and learn a little along the way, so that will have to be enough.