Last week, a commemorative plaque was installed on the facade of the former Upper East Side home of Harry Houdini at 244 East 79th Street, marking the 90th anniversary of his death and celebrating National Magic Week. To coincide with this, the Society of American Magicians will meet tomorrow for a séance at the building’s Sojourn restaurant in hopes of contacting the great illusionist. As the Wall Street Journal notes, when he and his family moved into the top-floor studio of the boardinghouse in 1887, a young Houdini practiced his tricks and escapes in the space that now holds the eatery.
According to the Journal, “Before Harry Houdini died on Oct. 31, 1926, he asked his wife to hold annual séances—and gave her a secret code so that she could verify his return.” It’s since been revealed as the words “Rosa Bell,” a line from the couple’s favorite ballad, along with an encrypted spelling of “believe” known only to his wife, but the request is quite ironic as Houdini wrote in his 1924 book “A Magician Among the Spirits” that he didn’t believe séances worked. Regardless, each year the events are hosted by the Scranton, Pennsylvania-based Harry Houdini Museum, but this is the first time it’s being held at his childhood home.
The séance is free and open to the public. It begins at noon tomorrow, just before the time of his death at 1:26pm.
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Neighborhoods : Upper East Side