Open Shutter to the Past: San Francisco in Pictures – San Francisco Burns (1906)

Welcome back to Photo Friday – my little way of taking a break from San Francisco Real Estate and instead blogging about our great City’s past instead. All photos are published with permission from the San Francisco History Center and San Francisco Public Library.

Today is the 102nd anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.  The earthquake shook the City awake at 5:12am.  Modern analysis rates the quake somewhere between 7.7 and 8.3 on the Richter Scale. 

Even those of us that felt the quake in 1989 cannot imagine the devastation that occured in 1906.  

One eyewitness account taken from The Eye Witness to History states:

“The most terrible thing I saw was the futile struggle of a policeman and others to rescue a man who was pinned down in burning wreckage. The helpless man watched it in silence till the fire began burning his feet. Then he screamed and begged to be killed. The policeman took his name and address and shot him through the head.” (Adolphus Busch).

(As an aside, I can’t imagine a police officer today helping someone out of their misery in that way – they’d likely be afraid the dead man’s family would sue – times have changed.)
The Eye Witness to History  goes on to tell more first hand accounts, each as dramatic as the one above. 
The quake was felt as far North as Oregon, as far South as Los Angeles and as far East as Nevada. 
Some estimates put the death toll at 3,000.  Others estimate as many as twice that number.
The fires that ravaged the city lasted for days, and destroyed most of the City east of Van Ness Avenue. 
But just 5 days after the earthquake, and while the embers of the thousands of fires that burned likely still glowed, California Governor George Pardee declared that:

The work of rebuilding San Francisco has commenced, and I expect to see the great metropolis replaced on a much grander scale than ever before.

And indeed, the City was rebuilt.  And indeed, it was rebuilt on a grander scale than ever before.  Just 5 years after the devastation, the City by the Bay was chosen to host the Panama-Pacific International Exposition and by the time the exposition began on February 20, 1915 – our great City was rebuilt and even better than before. 
Like a Phoenix that rose from the ashes – San Francisco was able to shine and show the world that it was a modern City that couldn’t be held down for long, and not even one of the worst natural disasters in history was going to keep us down.
Those of us lucky enough to call this City “home” are some of the luckiest people in the world.  Our City is beautiful.  Our City is strong.  Our City is enchanting. 
Enjoy your weekend folks.  And enjoy every square inch of this amazing City we call San Francisco.  Never forget how lucky you are to live here.

Luba