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Making a big splash in the Charles

Houdini about to jump into the Charles

On April 30, 1908, Harry Houdini walked from a nearby hotel to the Harvard Bridge, where he had himself chained up before he jumped into the still frigid Charles River. From The Amazing Harry Houdini:

"But aren't you even afraid, Mr. Houdini?" one of the reporters shouted to him. "Afraid?" Houdini asked with a loud laugh. "What do I have to fear? I am the King of Handcuffs. Nothing can hold me!"

And, of course, he eventually surfaced - after the assembled throng of some 10,000 began to fear he had drowned. That night, he appeared as scheduled at Keith's Theatre on Washington Street.

The photo is the first in a series of four in the Library of Congress's American Memory collection. The last shows Houdini bobbing at the surface after he unshackled himself.

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Comments

He looks so tall in that photo, but he was supposed to be about 5'5". That might make that woman behind him what 4'6"?

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Great photo! I've always wondered about the Houdini plaque at the Mass Ave./Beacon end of the bridge...

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Here's a photo of said plaque commemorating the feat. This is on the Boston side of the bridge, right above the ramp going up from the Esplanade to the bridge, near the Storrow Drive offramp.

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Plaque says May 1 but story above says April 3. Why can't history be easy?

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How did I leave that zero off? Ugh! Obviously, 4/30's a lot closer to 5/1 :-).

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Where's a photo of said plaque?

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Ah - when you wrote "Here's a photo of said plaque commemorating the feat," I thought you meant you were posting a link to a photo you had taken.

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Looks to me like he was as strong as an ox. I always thought that these tricks were fake but, even if they are/were, it looks like it must also take a lot of physical strength/stamina to do them.

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Many of his accomplishments required 'tricks' that made his escapes much easier than the audience was aware of, but he was in superb physical condition.

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His "tricks" were an intimate knowledge of locks and knots, superb physical conditioning and strength, and meticulous preparation and practice.

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He would swallow a key, regurgitate it, get himself out in seconds, and then sit around ten minutes letting the audience get worked up. That's a 'trick.'

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