Much of Northern California - not just San Francisco - was impacted when the San Andreas Fault ruptured nearly 300 miles on April 18, 1906. This image depicts the ruined City Hall in Santa Rosa. Image online, courtesy U.S. Geological Survey. PD
At 5:12 a.m., on April 18, 1906, Charles Howard’s adopted city of San Francisco was rocked by an 8.3 magnitude earthquake. (The quake was so massive its effects were noted 9,100 miles away in Gottingen, Germany.) It ruptured 430 kilometers of the San Andreas Fault, which was not yet known by that name.
The devastated city burned for three more days and, it is now estimated, about 3,000 people died. Preserved in the Library of Congress, actual film footage depicts the disaster and reveals how people - who quickly became refugees - reacted to it.
Photographs maintained by the U.S. National Archives also depict the damage caused when the earth shook the city:
Despite its massive devastation, San Francisco quickly recovered from the tragedy. Because of his generosity and ingenuity during the quake's immediate aftermath, Charles Howard was on his way to becoming a very wealthy man.