City in Ruins, Remembering the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake
At 5:13 AM on April 18, 1906, a massive 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit the northern California coast. The minute-long quake caused buildings in San Francisco, the largest city on the West Coast, to crumple and streets to buckle. Worse was to come as fires broke out across the city. With water mains ruptured, firefighters were helpless to battle the blazes.
The city burned for three days until rains finally extinguished the flames. 490 city blocks and over 25,000 buildings were destroyed. An estimated 3,000 people died. 250,000 people—more than half the population—were left homeless. Refugee camps sprang up across the city, in Golden Gate Park, the Panhandle, Fort Mason, the Presidio. About 80% of the city was destroyed at a cost of $7.24 billion in today’s dollars.
The 1906 earthquake and fire remain one of the worst natural disasters to hit an American city. It’s also the first to be extensively photographed. The Kiosk Museum presents a small sample of the thousands of images that captured this terrible event and its aftermath.
333 Post Street
San Francisco, CA 94108