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The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake In Photographs

  • DA-SN-03-00960
    A crowd gathers at Telegraph Hill to watch the burning of San Francisco. The view is looking south. On April 18, 1906 at 5:15 AM a quake of 8.25 on the Richter scale hit San Francisco. Greater destruction came from the fires afterwards. The city burned for three days. The combination destroyed 490 city blocks and 25,000 buildings, leaving 250,000 homeless and killing between 450 and 700. Estimated damages, over $350 million. (National Archives)
  • Engine retiring from fire to take up new stand. 9 am, April 19, 1906. (USGS)
    Engine retiring from fire to take up new stand. 9 am, April 19, 1906. (USGS)
  • Up Market St. from Montgomery St. (Library of Congress)
    Up Market St. from Montgomery St. (Library of Congress)
  • A train thrown down by the earthquake at Point Reyes Station
    Train thrown down by the earthquake at Point Reyes Station. The train was standing on a siding. Beyond are the buildings of the Point Reyes Hotel and, on the extreme right, the ruin of a stone store which was shaken down. (USGS)
  • African American families on street during the San Francisco Fire of 1906, with clouds of smoke billowing at bottom of hill in background
    frican American families on street during the San Francisco Fire of 1906; clouds of smoke billowing at bottom of hill in background. (Library of Congress)
  • After the disaster, looking down Sacramento Street, from Nob Hill, with the Ferry Building in background
    Sacramento Street, from Nob Hill, with the Ferry Building at foot. (National Archives)
  • Bread line. (George Williford Boyce Haley / National Archives)
    Bread line. (George Williford Boyce Haley / National Archives)
  • Breuners furniture store burning out of control in San Francisco at 11 p.m. on April 18, 1906
  • California Street looking east from Grant Avenue, which was DuPont Street in 1906
    California Street looking east from Grant Avenue, which was DuPont Street in 1906. The immediate part of this district is that of Chinatown, the lower part is the financial district showing Merchant's Exchange Building.
  • Cooking in the street. (Library of Congress)
    Cooking in the street. (Library of Congress)
  • Detail of the panorama photograph of a ruined San Francisco, viewed from the Lawrence Captive Airship on May 29, 1906
    Ruins of San Francisco, Nob Hill in foreground, viewed from Lawrence Captive Airship, 1,500 feet elevation, May 29, 1906 -- 41 days after the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and resulting fires. (Library of Congress)
  • Disruption of Van Ness Avenue over a filled-in ravine
    Disruption of Van Ness Avenue over a filled-in ravine. Lateral movements as great as 3 feet (0.9m) and vertical movements as great as 2 feet (0.6m) occurred at this location. Photograph previously published by Zeigler (1906) with caption "Break in asphalt paving on Van Ness Avenue near Vallejo Street. View shows horse-drawn wagon and buggy traffic. City and County of San Francisco, California. 1906. (USGS)
  • Dragging trunks from fire; Van Ness Avenue. 9 am, April 19, 1906. (USGS)
    Dragging trunks from fire; Van Ness Avenue. 9 am, April 19, 1906. (USGS)
  • Families take refuge in tents. (National Archives)
    Families take refuge in tents. (National Archives)
  • Fire in San Francisco following the great earthquake of 1906
    Fire in San Francisco following the great earthquake of 1906. View if from Gold Gate Park, Marin County, California. (USGS)
  • Junction of Sacramento, Market, and Embarcadero Streets, and part of the car track loop in front of the Ferry Building
    Junction of Sacramento, Market, and Embarcadero Streets, and part of the car track loop in front of the Ferry Building.(National Archives)
  • Looking up California Street from Sansome Street
    Looking up California St. from Sansoney [i.e. Sansome] St. (Library of Congress)
  • Looting a cash register and destroyed buildings at corner of 4th and Market Streets
    Looting a cash register and destroyed buildings at corner of 4th and Market Streets. 1906. (USGS)
  • Market Street at the junction of Powell and Market, looking east toward the Ferry Building
    Market Street at the junction of Powell and Market, looking east toward the Ferry Building. The large building to the left is the Flood Building. The side wall of the first large building is the Emporium, the largest department store in San Francisco. On the right is the San Francisco Call Building. On the left, the structure with the derrick is the new addition to the De Young Building, and in the extreme distance, at the end of Market Street, is the tower of the Ferry Building. (National Archives)
  • Market Street, looking west toward the Twin Peaks, from Battery Street. Both sides of Market Street lined with ruined buildings from Battery to Powell
    Market Street, looking west toward the Rwin Peaks, from Battery Street. Both sides of Market Street lined with ruined buildings from Battery to Powell.
  • San Francisco earthquake, April 18, 1906. (Library of Congress)
    San Francisco earthquake, April 18, 1906. (Library of Congress)
  • Winchester Hotel Burning During San Francisco Earthquake
    18 Apr 1906 --- People watch as the Winchester Hotel burns in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The Hearst Building (l) was dynamited to use as a fire break between the fire and the rest of the city. --- Image by © CORBIS
  • Pine St. below Kearney St. (Library of Congress)
    Pine St. below Kearney St. (Library of Congress)
  • Preparing hot food for refugees
    Preparing hot food for the refugees. (George Williford Boyce Haley / National Archives)
  • Refugees (George Williford Boyce Haley / National Archives)
    Refugees (George Williford Boyce Haley / National Archives)
  • Landscape
  • Rescue. (George Williford Boyce Haley / National Archives)
    Rescue. (George Williford Boyce Haley / National Archives)
  • Ruins of San Francisco, Nob Hill in foreground, viewed from the Lawrence Captive Airship from a height of 1,500 feet on May 29, 1906, 41 days after the disaster
    Ruins of San Francisco, Nob Hill in foreground, viewed from Lawrence Captive Airship, 1,500 feet elevation, May 29, 1906 -- 41 days after the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and resulting fires. (Library of Congress)
  • San Francisco in flames. (Library of Congress)
    San Francisco in flames. (Library of Congress)
  • San Francisco Mission District burning in the aftermath of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906
  • San Francisco, April 18, 1906. (Arnold Genthe / Library of Congress)
    San Francisco, April 18, 1906. (Arnold Genthe / Library of Congress)
  • (Library of Congress)
    (Library of Congress)
  • Smoke Rising From Buildings on the Waterfront in San Francisco
    April 1906, California, USA --- Smoke rises from burning buildings on the waterfront during the fire after the earthquake of 1906 in San Francisco, California, USA. --- Image by © CORBIS
  • Souvenier hunters. In the early stages, these people caused considerable trouble to the military authorities
    Souvenier hunters. These in the early stages caused considerable trouble to the military authorities. (National Archives)
  • San Francisco City Hall and dome at McAllister Street and Van Ness Avenue.
    San Francisco City Hall and dome at McAllister Street and Van Ness Avenue.
  • The toppled statue of Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz, scientist and scholar, knocked from the facade of Stanford Universitys zoology building in April of 1906
    The toppled statue of Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz, scientist and scholar, knocked from the facade of Stanford University's zoology building in April of 1906. (Library of Congress)
  • The view northeast from City Hall showing massive damage to San Francisco
    View northeast from City Hall showing massive damage to San Francisco. 1 pm, April 19, 1906. (USGS)
  • Troops Walking Down Street After Quake
    18 Apr 1906 --- Troops walk east along Market Street after the devastating earthquake of 1906. The tall Call building burns in the distance. --- Image by © Corbis
  • View of earthquake damage and fires across California Street, south of Nob Hill
    View of earthquake damage and fires. Across California Street, south from Nob Hill. 11 am, April 19, 1906. (USGS)
  • Personal snapshot of immediate post-earthquake San Francisco in 1906.
    View of Howard Street homes left tilting after the 1906 San Francisco. --- Image by © Kirn Vintage Stock/Corbis

April 18, 1906 was a dark day in the history of San Francisco. 110 years ago, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake centered near the city struck at 5:15 AM. Devastating fires soon broke out in the city and lasted for several days. Over 80% of San Francisco was destroyed and about 3,000 people died. It was one of the worst and deadliest natural disasters in the history of the United States. Take a look at the 1906 San Francisco earthquake photographs below.

1. San Francisco Mission District burning in the aftermath of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. The original caption reads: “Probably Fulton Street, near Gough. This was the edge of the fire district.”

San Francisco Mission District burning in the aftermath of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906

2. San Francisco residents stand in the rubble-strewn streets watching the fire grow after the earthquake struck.

San Francisco, April 18, 1906. (Arnold Genthe / Library of Congress)

San Francisco, April 18, 1906. (Arnold Genthe / Library of Congress)

3. Breuner’s furniture store burning out of control in San Francisco at 11 p.m.

Breuners furniture store burning out of control in San Francisco at 11 p.m. on April 18, 1906

4. San Francisco in flames.

San Francisco in flames. (Library of Congress)

San Francisco in flames. (Library of Congress)

5. San Francisco residents, some seated in chairs, sit among the earthquake damage, watching out-of-control fires in the distance.

(Library of Congress)

(Library of Congress)

6. Smoke rises from burning buildings on the waterfront during the fire after the earthquake of 1906 in San Francisco, California.

April 1906, California, USA --- Smoke rises from burning buildings on the waterfront during the fire after the earthquake of 1906 in San Francisco, California, USA. --- Image by © CORBIS

April 1906, California, USA — Smoke rises from burning buildings on the waterfront during the fire after the earthquake of 1906 in San Francisco, California, USA. — Image by © CORBIS

7. People watch as the Winchester Hotel burns in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The Hearst Building (left) was dynamited to use as a fire break between the fire and the rest of the city.

18 Apr 1906 --- People watch as the Winchester Hotel burns in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The Hearst Building (l) was dynamited to use as a fire break between the fire and the rest of the city. --- Image by © CORBIS

18 Apr 1906 — People watch as the Winchester Hotel burns in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The Hearst Building (l) was dynamited to use as a fire break between the fire and the rest of the city. — Image by © CORBIS

8. Fire in San Francisco following the great earthquake of 1906.

Fire in San Francisco following the great earthquake of 1906. View if from Gold Gate Park, Marin County, California. (USGS)

Fire in San Francisco following the great earthquake of 1906. View if from Gold Gate Park, Marin County, California. (USGS)

9. Rescue workers helping survivors in the wreckage.

Rescue. (George Williford Boyce Haley / National Archives)

Rescue. (George Williford Boyce Haley / National Archives)

10. African American families on street during the San Francisco Fire of 1906, with clouds of smoke billowing at bottom of hill in background.

frican American families on street during the San Francisco Fire of 1906; clouds of smoke billowing at bottom of hill in background. (Library of Congress)

frican American families on street during the San Francisco Fire of 1906; clouds of smoke billowing at bottom of hill in background. (Library of Congress)

11. A crowd gathers on Telegraph Hill to watch the burning of San Francisco. The view is looking south.

A crowd gathers at Telegraph Hill to watch the burning of San Francisco. The view is looking south. On April 18, 1906 at 5:15 AM a quake of 8.25 on the Richter scale hit San Francisco. Greater destruction came from the fires afterwards. The city burned for three days. The combination destroyed 490 city blocks and 25,000 buildings, leaving 250,000 homeless and killing between 450 and 700. Estimated damages, over $350 million. (National Archives)

A crowd gathers at Telegraph Hill to watch the burning of San Francisco. The view is looking south. On April 18, 1906 at 5:15 AM a quake of 8.25 on the Richter scale hit San Francisco. Greater destruction came from the fires afterwards. The city burned for three days. The combination destroyed 490 city blocks and 25,000 buildings, leaving 250,000 homeless and killing between 450 and 700. Estimated damages, over $350 million. (National Archives)

12. Troops walk east along Market Street after the devastating earthquake of 1906. The Call building burns in the distance.

18 Apr 1906 --- Troops walk east along Market Street after the devastating earthquake of 1906. The tall Call building burns in the distance. --- Image by © Corbis

18 Apr 1906 — Troops walk east along Market Street after the devastating earthquake of 1906. The tall Call building burns in the distance. — Image by © Corbis

13. Onlookers pose for a photograph as San Francisco burns in the background.

San Francisco earthquake, April 18, 1906. (Library of Congress)

San Francisco earthquake, April 18, 1906. (Library of Congress)

14. View of earthquake damage and fires across California Street, south of Nob Hill.

View of earthquake damage and fires. Across California Street, south from Nob Hill. 11 am, April 19, 1906. (USGS)

View of earthquake damage and fires. Across California Street, south from Nob Hill. 11 am, April 19, 1906. (USGS)

15. A horse-drawn fire engine retires from a fire to move to a new location.

Engine retiring from fire to take up new stand. 9 am, April 19, 1906. (USGS)

Engine retiring from fire to take up new stand. 9 am, April 19, 1906. (USGS)

16. Evacuees drag trunks from the fire on Van Ness Avenue.

Dragging trunks from fire; Van Ness Avenue. 9 am, April 19, 1906. (USGS)

Dragging trunks from fire; Van Ness Avenue. 9 am, April 19, 1906. (USGS)

17. Refugees, aid workers, and soldiers clog a San Francisco intersection after the earthquake and fire.

Landscape

18. The view northeast from City Hall showing massive damage to San Francisco.

View northeast from City Hall showing massive damage to San Francisco. 1 pm, April 19, 1906. (USGS)

View northeast from City Hall showing massive damage to San Francisco. 1 pm, April 19, 1906. (USGS)

19. Souvenier hunters. In the early stages, these people caused considerable trouble to the military authorities.

Souvenier hunters. These in the early stages caused considerable trouble to the military authorities. (National Archives)

Souvenier hunters. These in the early stages caused considerable trouble to the military authorities. (National Archives)

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