View Full Version : The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire

09-02-2005, 11:44 PM
The National Park Service has an interesting website on the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire:

Here's a quote from the home page:

The 1906 Earthquake and Fire

In the early dawn light of April 18, 1906, at 5:12 a.m., the ground under San Francisco shook violently for a less than a minute. Damage from the earthquake was severe, but the ensuing fires were truly catastrophic. Thirty fires began almost immediately. Burning for three days, they destroyed over 500 city blocks in the heart of the city. The city's water pipes were shattered by the quake and little could be done to stop the inferno from incinerating all in its path. Overcome by shock, panic and confusion, over half of the city's 400,000 people would end up homeless. The number of dead is controversial but probably lies between 500 and 3,000.

In the days following the earthquake, the newly homeless needed food and shelter. Fortunately for the city, army troops stationed at posts that are now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area responded within hours. They maintained order, fought the fires, established communications, gave medical treatment and provided food, shelter and sanitation. San Franciscans were never more aware of, never more interactive with, and certainly never more grateful to the army than after that disaster. This is a story of heroism and valor, order and organization, as well as conflict and controversy.

The Law Enforcement page is pretty interesting, as well. Here's the first paragraph.

The calamitous San Francisco 1906 earthquake struck at 5:12 a.m. on Wednesday, April 18. That morning, as aftershocks jarred and fires spread, an increasingly unnerved population started to panic. Hundreds massed at the Ferry Building in an attempt to escape the city. The tense disarray and lack of order stirred the growing crowds. A young man recalled, "On down the street we came across groups of men about whiskey and beer kegs drinking from cans, hollering, screaming, cursing in the most terrible manner." Another noted: "Throughout the whole day constant trouble had been experienced owing to a large number of drunks along the waterfront. The uncontrolled crowds rushed from saloon to saloon, looting the stocks and becoming intoxicated early in the day." Mobs raided saloons and refused to assist in the fire fighting efforts. As ensuing confusion accelerated, the Mayor's office received report after report of disorder and chaos.