A Photo Tour Of the Great Earthquake

This was the day when, in 1906, San Francisco changed forever, with a 7.8-magnitude earthquake and subsequent fires leveling most of the city.

Photography from that grim two-or-three day span presents an almost apocalyptic vision of the past. What we have here (preserved by institutions like the SF Public Library, US Geological Survey, and UC Berkeley) are really the footprints of the city as it was, preserved for us to compare side-by-side with the modern city that sprung up in their aftermath.

While it doesn’t pay to fret TOO much about the inevitability of the next Big One, it’s a good on this date to remember the experiences of our San Francisco forebears–and to think ahead about those who will someday be commemorating us.


(Union Square)
(SF City Hall)
(Hearst Building)
(Columbus Tower)
(Merchant Street)
(Sacramento Street)
(Odd Fellows Building)
(The Hall of Justice)
(Alamo Square)
(A onetime cable car.)
(The Fairmont Hotel)
(Palace Hotel)
(Valencia Hotel)
(Hunters Point)
(Where in the city is this? Trick question: It’s actually Stanford University. A reminder that this day is about more than just SF itself.)

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