Ambassador Theatre

2464 18th Street NW,
Washington, DC 20009

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DavidZornig on February 7, 2014 at 6:40 pm

FYI. The Shorpy Higginbotham Facebook page and website has a detailed photo that will enlarge, of the aftermath of the collapse.

Mendy216 on November 28, 2012 at 2:35 pm

My Uncle was in the Knickerbocker theater the day it colapsed. heard sone noise and he and many others left by the exit. he was in the exit door archway as the roof fell in. he lived on champlain st. NW. 1 block away.

BobFurmanek on October 19, 2012 at 8:16 pm

The Ambassador was one of two theaters in Washington to play Alfred Hitchcock’s DIAL M FOR MURDER in 2-D, without glasses. I’ve posted an ad for opening day, May 27, 1954.

More information can be found in this article:

sconnell1 on March 30, 2012 at 11:52 am

I made a mistake in my comment on June 10th. The correct title of the film is JOHN GOLDFARB PLEASE COME HOME.

Tinseltoes on December 1, 2010 at 10:12 am

On this day in 1939, the Ambassador opened day-and-date with the Earle Theatre with the Washington premiere engagement of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Jamaica Inn.” The Earle, however, also had a stage show with comedian Joe Cook and his “Laugh Factory” revue, with large newspaper advertising all to itself. The Ambassador’s single feature engagement was listed only in the alphabetical directory for the Warner Bros. circuit.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on February 17, 2010 at 12:08 pm

They say this is the site of the theatre:

View link

jeffkrulik on December 23, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Blizzard of 1922: Knickerbocker Theater Disaster
Newsreel footage of aftermath

sconnell1 on June 10, 2009 at 9:41 pm

While the Ambassador played BECAUSE THEY’RE YOUNG between June 15-June 24 of 1961, the Metropolitan played THE RAT RACE.

The Metropolitan was closed between September 6 and October 4 of 1961. The Ambassador played COME SEPTEMBER.

While the Ambassador played WEST SIDE STORY between June 12-July 2 of 1963, the Metropolitan played THE WONDERUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM.

While the Ambassador played a series of second-run features between May 20-July 7 of 1964, the Metropolitan played the first run of WHAT A WAY TO GO.

While the Ambassador played a series of second-run features between November 18-December 22 of 1964, the Metropolitan played the first run of GOODBYE CHARLIE.

While the Ambassador played the first run of JOHN GOLDFARB, PLEASE COME HOMEY between April 14-May 11 of 1963, the played the Metropolitan played the first run of CHEYENNE AUTUMN.

jflundy on March 10, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Opening view of the Knickerbocker on 13 October 1917:

jflundy on December 3, 2008 at 5:04 pm

A photo from November 24, 1925:

Harold Lloyd as “The Freshman” is playing as orphans gather under thr marquee.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on July 31, 2008 at 6:55 pm

Here is a new link for the 1951 photo posted on June 5, 2007.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 1, 2007 at 7:40 am

A Kimball theater organ size 2/8 was installed in the Ambassador Theater in 1923.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on July 4, 2007 at 10:07 am

The first Times story was probably a typo as far as the date is concerned. It looks like the “8” was omitted. As I posted above, I believe the correct date is January 28.

barkas4 on July 4, 2007 at 7:04 am

Check all the major newspapers of January 29, 1922 and the not so major ones. They all ran headline stories about the crash that occured the day before. NOAA, other weather information websites, and some eyewitness accounts on the web also have the correct date. Only the Army Quartermaster’s website is incorect.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on July 3, 2007 at 7:54 pm

This is an earlier story in the NY Times about the roof collapse. I believe the date of January 28, 1922 posted by Nick Barkas on Jun 5, 2007 at 2:57pm is correct.

THEATRE WRECK INQUIRIES STARTED; SENATE WILL ACT; District of Columbia Experts and Grand Jury View the Knickerbocker Ruins. CAPPER OFFERS RESOLUTION Hints of Collusion of Inspectors and Contractors—Resolution Presented in House Also. POLICE DEATH LIST ONLY 95 Duplications Enlarged Previous Total—Engineer Suggests Defectin Material of Roof. Errors Found in Previous Lists. Grand Jury Inspects Ruins. START INQUIRIES INTO THEATRE WRECK Suggests Defect In Material. Capper for Stringent Inquiry. Many Firetraps, Says Frelinghuysen. White House Reception Put Off.

NY Times January 31, 1922, Tuesday

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30.—Thorough investigation to determine the responsibility for the Knickerbocker Theatre disaster of Saturday night was promised today by officials of the District Government, leaders in both branches of Congress, the Federal Courts and the Coroner.

“Saturday night” would have been January 28.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on July 3, 2007 at 7:30 pm

A NY Times story claims that the roof collapsed on January 8, 1922. At least we’re sure it happened in 1922.

NINE MEN ACCUSED IN THEATRE COLLAPSE; Architect, Builders and Inspectors Are Ordered Held for Grand Jury Action.LAX METHODS CONDEMNED. Coroner’s Jury Calls for Careful Examination of All Other Washington Theatres.

NY Times February 15, 1922

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14.—Nine men were ordered held for the Grand Jury by the coroner’s jury which brought in a verdict tonight in connection with the collapse of the roof of the Knickerbocker Motion Picture Theatre Jan. 8, resulting in the death of ninety-eight persons.

barkas4 on June 5, 2007 at 2:57 pm

The Knickerbocker Theater disaster happened on January 28, 1922, not on the 22nd as stated above.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on June 5, 2007 at 12:48 pm

A 1951 photo of the Ambassador Theater can be seen here.

barkas4 on December 30, 2006 at 3:22 pm

I have not been on this site lately and am pleased that there are some relatives of survivors of the Knickerbocker disaster. My grandfather (Oreste Natiello) was in the orchestra (french horn). His brother was the conductor: Ernesto Natiello. If you have not already contacted Debbie Chambers, do so. She is writing a book about the disaster and has many resources to share. She can be found on or Just search for her postings or for information on the Knickerbocker Theater. She lined me up with a Canadian Company that did a documentory on the Knickerbocker. You can get a copy of it from Disasters of the
Twentieth Century website. Go to their store. The documentary is good and I enjoyed being in it but some of the information is not
true, even some of what I said. I had no opportunity to review
questions ahead of time or to edit what I said. I was probably
nervous or my memory was not that good that day. I was surprised at some of what I said. I never knew my grandfather but have done a
lot of reading on the theater – mostly old newspapers and some
websites. Debbie sent me picures.

askmike on August 5, 2006 at 7:19 pm

I worked at the Ambassador Theater when it was a rock hall. That was from August 1967 to January 1968. It was an amazing place with one of the best lightshows ever. Bands that played there included Jimi Hendrix for a week at $1.50 – $2.50 a ticket; Moby Grape, John Lee Hooker, Vanilla Fudge, The Hollies, Jr Wells, the Fugs, Canned Heat, Strawberry Alarm Clock and more.

Ron3853 on May 12, 2006 at 7:30 am

“Mary Poppins” played first-run at the Ontario Theater, located in the same neighborhood as the Ambassador. The film opened there in October 1964 and played until the next spring when “The Sound of Music” replaced it.

GSenda on May 12, 2006 at 7:27 am

This is the theatre where I saw South Pacific in 1964. We moved later in the year before the firsr DC riots. I had thought we moved in early 1964 but clearly remember seeing this movie as we lived on 16th Street *(2400) and it was not that far a walk to it.

Now if I can just find the one that showed Mary Poppins…

George Senda
Concord Ca