It Happened Today: The Trocadero Burns, A Teen Heartthrob Born, and 8-Year-Old Jane Marie Althoff Is Strangled At A Carnival

A look back at Philadelphia history

Before it was the Chinatown rock club we know and (mostly) love today, the Trocadero was an art house theater. And before that, a burlesque house. But before that, the venue hosted traveling minstrel shows and was known as the Arch Street Opera House, which opened in 1870. On April 26, 1883, a gas stove exploded inside and flames ripped through the building. The stage burned, part of the ceiling fell in, and the wardrobe—valued at $3,000—was destroyed. No one was injured, and owner Bolton Winpenny likely made out alright, since he had the building insured for $19,000.

Other notable happenings: Robert Louis Ridarelli was born here, much to the future delight of teenage girls who would come to know him as Bobby Rydell (April 26, 1942); the strangled body of 8-year-old Jane Marie Althoff was discovered at a carnival near the city, a crime for which there would be no arrest until the 1990s when William Henry Redmond—by then an old man—was linked to her death and others, though he would die awaiting trial (April 26, 1951); and the Grateful Dead play 21 songs at the Spectrum, encoring with a no-doubt meandering version of “U.S. Blues” (April 26, 1983).

Bonus: Through the magic of the Internets, here’s a link to streaming audio from the Grateful Dead show. It’s a little rough in spots (hey, it’s the Dead), but if you turn off the lights, close your eyes, and spark one up, you’ll be just fine.