Walking Through a Brick Wall

On May 4th, 1914 A London magician, named Sidney Josolyne signed an agreement giving Houdini the rights to perform a trick of walking through a steel wall. The trick begins with the audience looking at a 9 foot high brick wall built across the stage from front to back, so that the audience can see both sides. The floor is covered with two large cloths, each a single piece. A six foot screen is placed around the performer, and takes up not more than a third of the stage. Another screen of the same size is placed on the other side of the wall. Houdini raises his hands and shouts to the audience, "Here I am." With that the screen is removed and Houdini is gone. The screen on the other side of the wall is removed, revealing Houdini.

While Houdini used the existence of the long rug beneath the wall to prove he was not using trap doors, in fact the cloth or rug was essential to the trick. The cloth needed to be cut exactly to size, long enough on both sides so that the inspection committee could stand on the cloth itself and not notice the trap beneath. It had to be on stage, or the committee would see the trap door beneath. Beneath the rug, Houdini utilized one long trap door that went from one side of the wall to the other. The trap was hinged in two sections, dropping downward at the center. When lowered, they formed a V-shape just large enough for Houdini to wiggle through. Once hidden by the first screen, he gave a signal for the trap to be lowered, slipped beneath the wall, and appeared on the other side. While he traveled below the wall, the audience's attention was often focused on examining the top of the wall, counting the bricks, or watching for movement of the bricks.