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Thursday, April 14, 2016

April 18, 1906 - the earthquake and fire that destroyed 80% of San Francisco: documentary and footage

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake (wiki) struck the coast of Northern California at 5:12 a.m. on April 18 with an estimated"moment magnitude" of 7.8 and a maximum "Mercalli intensity" of "XI" ("Extreme"). Severe shaking was felt from Eureka on the North Coast to the Salinas Valley, an agricultural region to the south of the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Devastating fires soon broke out in the city and lasted for several days. As a result, about 3,000 people died and over 80% of the city of San Francisco was destroyed. The events are remembered as one of the worst and deadliest natural disasters in the history of the United States. The death toll remains the greatest loss of life from a natural disaster in California's history and high in the lists of American urban disasters.

This first video was shot on April 14, 1906, four days before the San Francisco earthquake and fire (wiki). Check out the lack of traffic regulation: no traffic lights, no lanes, and no rules: 

Here's the same area of Market Street after April 18 earthquake:

And a side by side comparison of the two trips:

Library of Congress (silent) footage of  the quake itself:

And, lastly, a recent documentary on the disaster:

Want more? Check out Google images of the earthquake.


  1. Thank you for posting these.

  2. Eerily fascinating.
    Traffic isn't much better today!

  3. Wonderful. What a bustling city. No traffic control, lights, or markings; not much sign of government, no problems. Just freedom and the free market at work!

  4. The date cited for the first video is incorrect. Most if not all of the cars seen in the street are Ford model Ts introduced in 1908 - the first mass produced automobile.

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