When the Stadtarchiv Köln
—City Archive of Cologne, Germany—collapsed March 3, two people died, surrounding buildings were irretrievably damaged and more than a thousand years of records were buried in rubble.
The 38-year-old archive building contained 65,000 documents, the oldest dating to 922. Holdings—more than 16 miles of files—included tens of thousands of maps, photos, posters and one-of-a-kind artifacts from the Middle Ages. The collection had outgrown the archive in 1996 and some material was removed for storage elsewhere. All told, it was valued at $500 million, according to the newspaper Die Welt.