San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 - A PICTORIAL HISTORY

As if the 1906 earthquake weren't serious-enough, fires erupted (then spread) throughout San Francisco as a result of damaged gas lines (and water mains).  This image depicts a photo, by Arnold Genthe, which shows fire approaching Sacramento Street.  Genthe's photo is part of the Steinbrugge Collection of the UC Berkeley Earthquake Engineering Research Center and is online, via the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).  PD


America’s Library of Congress and National Archives have digitized many pictures of the great earthquake and ensuing fire. So have libraries, universities and museums in the San Francisco area. Let’s look at a representative sampling.

  • As San Francisco burned, horses were injured and many others were afraid to go near the fires.

  • Rescuing people, and property, from the ruins was a top priority.

  • So was supplying food. Bags of potatoes had to be re-stacked after a rain storm further dampened the people’s spirits.

  • A line of horses waited in front of the National Red Cross headquarters, located in the vicinity of McAllister and Gough Streets. Other horses were not so fortunate.

  • The general landscape of the city reveals what can happen when buildings in earthquake zones are not reinforced.

  • Families, rendered homeless in their burning city, slept on the side of a hill.

  • City Hall, located at McAllister Street and Van Ness Avenue, was badly damaged in the quake.

  • Debris surrounded the south side of the Palace Hotel.

  • Market Street - as it appeared looking west from Montgomery Avenue.

  • Ruins in the vicinity of California and Mason Streets, with the Fairmont Hotel in the distance.

  • The Fairmont Hill area was strewn with wreckage.

  • The waterfront, along Embarcadero Street (near Clay and Broadway) shows distant smoke coming from Telegraph Hill.

  • Like elsewhere in the city, the main part of the retail district was hard hit.

  • With Telegraph Hill in the background, St. Mary’s Church (at the entrance to Chinatown) remained standing.

  • The U.S. Army Signal Corps (in the Tennessee Hollow, Presidio of San Francisco) had two of the few automobiles then available in the city.

  • The Ferry Building, at the foot of Market Street, provided a place from which to photograph the still-smoldering, surrounding area.

  • Hotels (like the Valencia, where a reported fifty people died) and homes throughout the city either collapsed or subsided.

  • Cleaning up the city, and hauling away the debris, was a huge job throughout San Francisco in 1906.

Although their city had been demolished, the people rallied. As one eyewitness, Ernest Adams, observed:

Here we are all paupers together, but we have our grit left.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Apr 01, 2006

Updated Last Revision: Jul 09, 2019

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"A PICTORIAL HISTORY" AwesomeStories.com. Apr 01, 2006. Feb 19, 2020.
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