TALES OF TAKOMA: Historic snow

Looking north up Willow Avenue from Eastern in 1922, as seen from the Adventist Review and Herald building (shadow). In 1953, the Adventist congregation moved from the church in the foreground to a new Gothic Revival church that filled the open triangle.

 Snowfall in 1922 turns Takoma Park into a Currier-and-Ives painting.


Tuesday’s surprise snowfall conjured up memories of snowfalls past, especially the double whammy storm of 2010 that introduced a whole new word into our vocabulary: Snowmageddon.

As it turns out, Snowmageddon was only the 4th worst storm in the DC region. The granddaddy of them all was the so-called Knickerbocker snowstorm of January 27-28, 1922.  Tragedy struck when the heavy snow piled up on the roof of Washington’s newest and largest movie theater, the Knickerbocker, causing the roof to collapse, killing 98 people and injuring 133 more.


Clearing a Takoma Park walkway during Snowmageddon. Photo by Bill Brown

But the winter of 2009-2010 ranks as the worst winter ever when you consider the total accumulation.  Start with the Snowpocalypse that in and of itself ranks as the eighth worst regional storm. Then came February’s Snowmageddon, followed three days later by Snoverkill.  We ended up with a grand total of more than 56 inches of snow before winter retired from the scene.

Other memorable snowfalls include the President’s Day storm of 1979 (third worst) that dumped 17 inches, and the Blizzard of 1996 (Jan 6-8), which shut down the federal government for more than a week. And there have always been the storms of late March, like the last winter that that threatened to bury the cherry blossoms.

Sledding Photos | Snow Day | Takoma Park Maryland | Drew Bird Photography

Takoma Park sledders in 2014 on First Ave. Photo by Drew Bird.

Boys sledding no descreen

Takoma Park sledders circa 1900. Photo by Morris Bien of his on their front lawn on Elm Street.

Regardless of the decade, snowfalls inspire kids to grab their sleds and find a hill, and they inspire photographers to grab their cameras. Clearing the sidewalks can come later.  Digging into the Historic Takoma archives, we turned up a few images from the city’s early history that illustrate the universal enjoyment of winter’s magic.  For more images from the past Voices, here’s a link to the pdf of the March 2008 Archives column on growing up in TP in winter.

Below is a series of approximately 100 year-old photos from Historic Takoma’s archives. An inscription on the back of the postcards identifies D. Feldman as thephotographer. All appear to be taken on the same day as a set. A postmark of 1917 on the back of one card, and the fact that the library was built in 1911, gives us an approximate date for the images.

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About the Author

Diana Kohn
Diana Kohn is president of Historic Takoma, Inc., which is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the heritage of both Takoma Park MD and DC. Diana is co-author of Images of America: Takoma Park, a photo history of the town.