Harvard Bridge Houdini Plaque - Atlas Obscura

Harvard Bridge Houdini Plaque

Harry Houdini plunged into the Charles River and performed one of his escape acts here in 1908. 


Within the realm of magicians, illusionists, and escape artists, there is no one perhaps more renowned than Harry Houdini. His death-defying stunts shocked and captivated audiences of his time. Perhaps his signature performance act was escaping from handcuffs and shackles in very precarious situations, and one such act was performed on the Harvard Bridge overlooking the Charles River in Boston.

Houdini was in Boston during the spring of 1908 and to promote one of his upcoming performances, Houdini decided to take a 30-foot plunge into the cold waters of the Charles River while covered in locks and chains. On May 1, 1908, Houdini stood on the edge of the Harvard Bridge as a Boston patrolman handcuffed his hands behind his back and chained to a collar around his neck. Around 20,000 spectators including the mayors of Boston and Cambridge came to see the act and once the signal was given, Houdini jumped into the water below. The crowd waited anxiously and after around 40 seconds Houdini emerged with the restraints in his hands.

On May 1, 1994, exactly 86 years after the event, the local chapter of the Society of American Magicians dedicated a plaque to him on the Harvard Bridge where it still is today. If you are a fan of Houdini, then the plaque is certainly worth taking a look.

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