The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago

110 years ago next week, on April 18, 1906, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake centered near the city of San Francisco struck at 5:15 AM. The intense shaking toppled hundreds of buildings, but the resulting out-of-control fires were even more destructive. Broken water mains and limited firefighting capabilities allowed city-wide fires to burn for several days. Nearly 500 city blocks were leveled, with more than 25,000 buildings destroyed. At the time, the city was home to more than 400,000 residents—after the disaster, 250,000 were left homeless. The exact death toll is undetermined, but most estimates place the number of deaths caused by the earthquake and fire at more than 3,000.

  • The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago

    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.” 

  • Breuner’s furniture store burning out of control in San Francisco at 11 p.m. on April 18, 1906. 

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • San Francisco in flames, April 18,1906. 

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • San Francisco residents, some seated in chairs, sit among the earthquake damage, watching out-of-control fires in the distance. 

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • Smoke rises from burning buildings on the waterfront during the fire after the earthquake of 1906 in San Francisco, California. 

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • 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. The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago

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

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago

  • Rescue workers helping survivors in the wreckage. 

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • African American families on street during the San Francisco Fire of 1906, with clouds of smoke billowing at bottom of hill in background. 

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • A crowd gathers on Telegraph Hill to watch the burning of San Francisco. The view is looking south. 

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • Troops walk east along Market Street after the devastating earthquake of 1906. The Call building burns in the distance. 

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • Onlookers pose for a photograph as San Francisco burns in the background on April 18, 1906. 

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • View of earthquake damage and fires across California Street, south of Nob Hill. 

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • A horse-drawn fire engine retires from a fire to move to a new location on April 19, 1906. 

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • Evacuees drag trunks from the fire on Van Ness Avenue. 

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • Refugees, aid workers, and soldiers clog a San Francisco intersection after the earthquake and fire. 

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • The view northeast from City Hall showing massive damage to San Francisco. 

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • Souvenier hunters. In the early stages, these people caused considerable trouble to the military authorities. 

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • 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. 

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • Detail of the panorama photograph of a ruined San Francisco, viewed from the Lawrence Captive Airship on May 29, 1906. 

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • After the disaster, looking down Sacramento Street, from Nob Hill, with the Ferry Building in background. 

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • View of Howard Street homes left tilting after the 1906 San Francisco. 

    KThe Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • Looking up California Street from Sansome Street. See this view today in Google Maps Street View

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • Refugees from the disaster rest on a hillside.

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • The destroyed San Francisco City Hall and dome at McAllister Street and Van Ness Avenue.

    The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago
  • 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. 

    http://www.theatlantic.com/photo

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