From the Archives

110 years ago: Images from San Francisco's devastating 1906 earthquake

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck on April 18 with an estimated magnitude of 7.8, the same magnitude as a devastating quake this weekend in Ecuador.

San Francisco's temblor was followed by major fires that lasted for several days. The toll was high, about 3,000 people died and more than 80% of the city of San Francisco was destroyed.

Special Report: It could cost $3 billion to prevent disastrous earthquake damage along San Francisco’s Embarcadero >>

(Arnold Genthe / Associated Press)

Streets of San Francisco: Fires break out in San Francisco on April 18, 1906, after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the city.

(Associated Press)

Hibernia Bank: The building is in ruins following the massive earthquake that devastated the San Francisco area, April 18, 1906.

(Associated Press)

City streets: Damage caused by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake and fire along a broad avenue in San Francisco.

(Associated Press)

Fault lines: A quake-spawned chasm cuts through pavement at the corner of 18th and Lexington streets. Cracks and separations in the roadway can be caused by lateral spreading, or the sliding of ground. In the 1994 Northridge earthquake, lateral spreading severed gas lines and triggered huge fires.

(Associated Press)

City in ruins: Aftermath of the earthquake and fire. This view is southwest from the corner of Geary and Mason streets.

(U.S. Geological Survey)

Destroyed Civic Center: The remains of San Francisco City Hall after the 1906 earthquake.

(U.S. Geological Survey)

Ruined Market Street: Sunken area near the Ferry Building. April 20, 1906.

(Ralph O. Hotz via U.S. Geological Survey)

Smithereens: Downtown San Francisco after the devastation.

(U.S. Geological Survey)

Lone survivor: Massive damage surrounds a building in San Francisco.

(U.S. Geological Survey)

Burning city: Smoke billows following the fire that ravaged San Francisco.

(City and County of San Francisco via U.S. Geological Survey, photo from J. C. Branner collection, courtesy of Stanford University Archives )

Wrecked neighborhood: Undulations as large as 6 feet are seen along Dore Street from Bryant Street toward Brannan Street.

(U.S. Geological Survey)

Looking at the remains:At Market and 10th streets, a person looks up at the devastation.

(U.S. Geological Survey)

Only a shell:Buildings destroyed by earthquake and fire, looking down Montgomery Street at Market Street.

(U.S. Geological Survey)

Pile of bricks:A multi-story brick building collapses in downtown San Francisco.

(U.S. Geological Survey)

Leaning askew: A frame house was destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

(U.S. Army via UC Berkeley)

Charred downtown: The downtown of San Francisco, in the northeast of the city, was consumed by flames in the great fire that followed the 1906 earthquake.

(The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration )

Damage extent: This map of San Francisco drawn for the Army shows the downtown area and wharves after the 1906 earthquake. Lines show boundaries of relief areas, and dots indicate locations of kitchens. Crosshatching shows the burned area (514 blocks). (Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780s-1917, RG 94).

(U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey)

Rupture extent: Map shows the extent of the 1906 rupture seen at the surface. The total length is 296 miles (477 kilometers). For comparison, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake had a rupture length of about 25 miles (40 km).

(Los Angeles Times archives / California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside)

Newspaper coverage: At left, the L.A. Times front page from April 19, 1906 detailing San Francisco's great earthquake and fire. At right, the San Francisco Call newspaper reports on how the flames from the great fire of 1906 headed toward the Ferry Building. The structure ultimately survived.

(U.S. Geological Survey)

Recovery: A shopkeeper in San Francisco's devastated Chinatown was already selling souvenirs hours after the great 1906 earthquake hit.


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