1906 Earthquake San Francisco Market Street (After)


The aftermath of the 1906 earthquake: From Wikipedia

The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 was a major earthquake that struck San Francisco, California, and the coast of Northern California at 5:12 a.m. on Wednesday, April 18, 1906. The most widely accepted estimate for the magnitude of the earthquake is a moment magnitude (Mw) of 7.9; however, other values have been proposed, from 7.7 to as high as 8.25.

The main shock epicenter occurred offshore about 2 miles (3 km) from the city, near Mussel Rock. It ruptured along the San Andreas Fault both northward and southward for a total of 296 miles (477 km).Shaking was felt from Oregon to Los Angeles, and inland as far as central Nevada. The earthquake and resulting fire are remembered as one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States alongside the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. The death toll from the earthquake and resulting fire, estimated to be above 3,000, is the greatest loss of life from a natural disaster in California’s history. The economic impact has been compared with the more recent Hurricane Katrina.

Impact:

At the time, 375 deaths were reported; the figure was fabricated by government officials who felt that reporting the true death toll would hurt real estate prices and efforts to rebuild the city; additionally, hundreds of casualties in Chinatown went ignored and unrecorded. This figure is still uncertain today, estimated to be roughly 3,000 at minimum. Most of the deaths occurred in San Francisco itself, but 189 were reported elsewhere in the Bay Area; nearby cities, such as Santa Rosa and San Jose also suffered severe damages. In Monterey County, the earthquake permanently shifted the course of the Salinas River near its mouth. Where previously the river emptied into Monterey Bay between Moss Landing and Watsonville, it was diverted 6 miles south to a new outlet just north of Marina.

Between 227,000 and 300,000 people were left homeless out of a population of about 410,000; half of the people who evacuated fled across the bay to Oakland and Berkeley. Newspapers at the time described Golden Gate Park, the Presidio, the Panhandle and the beaches between Ingleside and North Beach as being covered with makeshift tents. More than two years later in 1908, many of these refugee camps were still in full operation.

The 1908 Lawson Report, a study of the 1906 quake lead and edited by Professor Andrew Lawson of the University of California, showed that the very same San Andreas Fault which had caused the disaster in San Francisco ran close to Los Angeles as well. The earthquake was the first natural disaster of its magnitude to be documented by photography and motion picture footage. Furthermore, it occurred at a time when the science of seismology was blossoming. The overall cost of the damage from the earthquake was estimated at the time to be around US$400 million ($9.5 billion in 2009 dollars).

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