cupcake with a birthday candle resting on top of playing cards

A Magical Milestone: Liberty Magic Turns Five

Tue, Feb 6, 2024

Written by: Andy Sharfman | Photo Credit Seth Culp-Ressler

Over the last five years, Liberty Magic has cast a spell on Pittsburgh, captivating audiences with all manner of tricks and illusions. However, we can trace the history of magic on Liberty Avenue much farther back than this anniversary. As any Liberty Magic goer can tell you, there is always more to the story…if you know where to look.

Black and white photo of Harry Houdini with chains wrapped around him and a crowd behind him

Credit: Thurston, John H. (John Henry), 1852-, photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The inaugural illusion

Our story begins in the year 1916 when Harry Houdini, the master escape artist, hung suspended above Liberty Avenue. Drawing thousands to witness his upside-down straitjacket escape, Houdini unknowingly ignited a legacy of magic in Pittsburgh. Interestingly, Houdini’s connection to Pittsburgh runs deeper than this performance. In fact, he visited the city 11 times, including a performance at the opening of the Gayety Theater (now the Byham) on Halloween night in 1904.

A seated group of people watch a magician on stage at Liberty Magic.


And Now for Our Second Act

Fast forward to 2019, the year Liberty Magic was born. Rooted in the rich history of magic on the very same street, this 68-seat theater put Pittsburgh on the map of magic once again. Today, Liberty Magic stands as a global hub for magic, hosting mind-bending residencies from magicians around the world. With 52 weeks of magic and seven shows weekly, the venue has secured the #2 spot on TripAdvisor's list of things to do in Pittsburgh. Liberty Magic now welcomes the newer generation of magicians, building on the legacy sparked by Houdini over a century ago. Next up to grace the stage is the magician Shawn Farquhar. A “choose your own adventure” program, Farquhar’s Deja Vu – An Experience to Remember will take place from March 6 to March 17.

More Magical Moments to Come

As we envision a bright future for Liberty Magic in the many years to come, we’re reminded by these words from Harry Houdini:

"I always have on my mind the thought that next year I must do something greater, something more wonderful."

Here's to a wonderful year at Liberty Magic, and the countless mesmerizing moments that lie ahead.

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