Houdini and The Tombs

While Houdini is widely recognized for his epic jailbreak escape from the Boston Tombs in March of 1906, there is yet another 'Tombs' that Houdini can now be connected to, albeit briefly, and in less dramatic fashion.

In the 1922 film The Man From Beyond, Houdini's Howard Hillary is wrongfully accused and arrested for murder of the missing Prof. Crawford Strange. While being escorted by the authorities for arraignment, we see a brief shot of an imposing 'City Prison' facade between a pair of conical towers.

While only on screen for a mere five seconds, the structure was unknown to me and made for another location to track down.

The prison briefly shown in The Man From Beyond was officially branded as the City Prison of New York, but more commonly known as The Tombs.

The eight-story, Chateau inspired detention complex was built in 1902 and replaced the New York City Halls of Justice and House of Detention (the original Tombs) which was constructed in 1838. Located along Centre Street and between Leonard and Franklin Streets in Lower Manhattan, The Tombs was a million-dollar complex that contained 320 cells, 2 chapels, and 4 hospital cells.

The Tombs was also connected to the Manhattan Criminal Courts Building with the "Bridge of Sighs", crossing four stories above Franklin Street. There was also an Annex with another 144 cells that had been established in 1884. 

Today, the New York County Family Court building stands on the grounds of the 1902 Tombs location.

While it would have been fantastic to see Houdini perform some feat or escape at The Tombs in The Man From Beyond, at least we can now link the Master Mystifier to this legendary location.


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