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1906 San Francisco earthquake
Date April 18, 1906 (1906-04-18)
Magnitude 7.9 Mw
Depth 8 kilometres (5.0 mi)[1]
Epicenter location San Francisco
Countries or regions affected United States
(San Francisco Bay Area)
Casualties 3,000+ killed
Stockton Street from Union Square, looking toward Market Street
Arnold Genthe's famous photograph, looking toward the fire on Sacramento Street

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.[2] The most widely accepted estimate for the magnitude of the earthquake is a moment magnitude (Mw) of 7.8; however, other values have been proposed, from 7.7 to as high as 8.25.[3] 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).[4] Shaking was felt from Oregon to Los Angeles, and inland as far as central Nevada. The earthquake and resulting fire are remembered as the worst natural disaster 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,[5] 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.[6]

Contents

Impact

At the time, 376 deaths were reported;[7] 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. Today, this figure has been revised to an estimate of at least 3,000.[8] Most of the deaths occurred in San Francisco itself, but 189 were reported elsewhere in the Bay Area;[2] nearby cities, such as Santa Rosa and San Jose also suffered severe damage. 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.

Houses damaged by the earthquake

Between 227,000 and 300,000 people were left homeless out of a population of about 410,000; half of the people who evacuated (evacuees) 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.[9]

The earthquake and fire would leave a long-standing and significant impression on the development of California. At the time of the disaster, San Francisco had been the ninth-largest city in the United States and the largest on the West Coast, with a population of about 410,000. Over a period of 60 years, the city had become the financial, trade and cultural center of the West; operated the busiest port on the West Coast; and was the "gateway to the Pacific", through which growing US economic and military power was projected into the Pacific and Asia. Over 80% of the city was destroyed by the earthquake and fire. Though San Francisco would rebuild quickly, the disaster would divert trade, industry and population growth south to Los Angeles, which during the 20th century would become the largest and most important urban area in the West. In addition, many of the city's leading poets and writers retreated to Carmel-by-the-Sea where, as "The Bohemians", they established the arts colony reputation that continues today.

The 1908 Lawson Report, a study of the 1906 quake led 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 $400 million ($6.5 billion in 2009 dollars).

Panoramic view of earthquake and fire damage from Stanford Mansion site, April 18 – 21, 1906[10]
Damage to other towns

Although the impact of the earthquake on San Francisco is perhaps most famous, the earthquake also inflicted considerable damage on several other cities. These include San Jose, which suffered considerable damage, and Santa Rosa, the entire downtown of which was essentially destroyed.[11][12][13]

Geology

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake was caused by a rupture on the San Andreas Fault, a continental transform fault that forms part of the boundary between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate. This fault runs the length of California from the Salton Sea in the south to Cape Mendocino to the north, a distance of about 800 miles (1,300 km). The earthquake ruptured the northern third of the fault for a distance of 296 miles (477 km). The maximum observed surface displacement was about 20 feet (6 m); however, geodetic measurements show displacements of up to 28 feet (8.5 m).[14]

A strong foreshock preceded the mainshock by about 20 to 25 seconds. The strong shaking of the main shock lasted about 42 seconds. The shaking intensity as described on the Modified Mercalli intensity scale reached VIII in San Francisco and up to IX in areas to the north like Santa Rosa where destruction was devastating.

There were decades of minor earthquakes – more than at any other time in the historical record for northern California – before the 1906 quake. Widely interpreted previously as precursory activity to the 1906 earthquake, they have been found to have a strong seasonal pattern and have been postulated to be due to large seasonal sediment loads in coastal bays that overlie faults as a result of the erosion caused by "hydraulic mining" in the later years of the California Gold Rush.[15]

Subsequent fires

Burning of San Francisco, Mission District

As damaging as the earthquake and its aftershocks were, the fires that burned out of control afterward were even more destructive.[16] It has been estimated that up to 90% of the total destruction was the result of the subsequent fires.[17] Over 30 fires, caused by ruptured gas mains, destroyed approximately 25,000 buildings on 490 city blocks. Worst of all, many were started when firefighters, untrained in the use of dynamite, attempted to demolish buildings to create firebreaks, which resulted in the destruction of more than 50% of the buildings that would have otherwise survived.[18] The city's Fire Chief, Dennis T. Sullivan, who would have been responsible, had died in the initial quake. The dynamited buildings themselves often caught fire. In all, the fires burned for four days and nights.

Due to a widespread practice by insurers to indemnify San Francisco properties from fire, but not earthquake damage, most of the destruction in the city was blamed on the fires. Some property owners deliberately set fire to damaged properties, in order to claim them on their insurance; this ultimately served no purpose, as wealthier citizens of the city shouldered the costs of repairing an estimated 80% of the city. Capt. Leonard D. Wildman of the U.S. Army Signal Corps[19] reported that he "was stopped by a fireman who told me that people in that neighborhood were firing their houses...they were told that they would not get their insurance on buildings damaged by the earthquake unless they were damaged by fire."[18]

As water mains were also broken, the city fire department had few resources with which to fight the fires. Several fires in the downtown area merged to become one giant inferno. Brigadier General Frederick Funston, commander of the Presidio of San Francisco and a resident of San Francisco, tried to bring the fire under control by detonating blocks of buildings around the fire to create firebreaks with all sorts of means, ranging from black powder and dynamite to even artillery barrages. Often the explosions set the ruins on fire or helped spread it.

One landmark building lost in the fire was the Palace Hotel, subsequently rebuilt, which had many famous visitors, including royalty and celebrated performers. It was constructed in 1875 primarily financed by Bank of California co-founder William Ralston, the "man who built San Francisco". In April 1906, the world's greatest tenor, Enrico Caruso, and members of the Metropolitan Opera Company came to San Francisco to give a series of performances at the Tivoli Opera House. The night after Caruso's performance in Carmen, the tenor was awakened in the early morning in his Palace Hotel suite by a strong jolt. Clutching an autographed photo of President Theodore Roosevelt, Caruso made an effort to get out of the city, first by boat and then by train, and vowed never to return to San Francisco. He kept his word. The Metropolitan Opera Company lost all of its travelling sets and costumes in the earthquake and ensuing fires.[20]

Some of the greatest losses from fire were in scientific laboratories. Alice Eastwood, the Curator of Botany at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, is credited with saving nearly 1,500 specimens, including the entire type specimen collection for a newly discovered and extremely rare species, before the remainder of the largest botanical collection in the western United States was consumed by fire.[21][22] The entire laboratory and all the records of Benjamin R. Jacobs, a biochemist who was researching the nutrition of everyday foods, was lost.[23] Another treasure lost in the fires was the original California flag used in the 1846 Bear Flag Revolt at Sonoma, which at the time was being stored in a state building in San Francisco.[24]

The army's role in the aftermath

The famous painting Thank God for the Soldiers, a period piece depicting U.S. Army soldiers bringing in critical supplies for the survivors.
Soldiers looting during the fire
Displaced victims of the earthquake, in front of a temporary tent shelter. Other tents can be seen in the background at right.
One of the eleven temporary housing camps in 1906

The city's interim fire chief (the original one was killed when the earthquake first struck) sent an urgent request to the Presidio, an Army post on the edge of the stricken city, for dynamite. Funston had already decided the situation required the use of troops. Collaring a policeman, he sent word to Mayor Schmitz of his decision to assist, and then ordered Army troops from as far away as Angel Island to mobilize and come into the City. Explosives were ferried across the Bay from the California Powder Works in what is now Hercules.

During the first few days, soldiers provided valuable services patrolling streets to discourage looting and guarding buildings such as the US Mint, post office, and county jail. They aided the fire department in dynamiting to demolish buildings in the path of the fires. The Army also became responsible for feeding, sheltering, and clothing the tens of thousands of displaced residents of the city. Under the command of Funston's superior, Major General Adolphus Greely, Commanding Officer, Pacific Division, over 4,000 troops saw service during the emergency. On July 1, 1906, civil authorities assumed responsibility for relief efforts, and the Army withdrew from the city.

On April 18, in response to riots among evacuees and looting, Mayor Schmitz issued and ordered posted a proclamation that "The Federal Troops, the members of the Regular Police Force and all Special Police Officers have been authorized by me to kill any and all persons found engaged in Looting or in the Commission of Any Other Crime." It is estimated that as many as 500 people were shot dead in the city, many of whom, it has been suggested, were not looting at all, but were attempting to save their own possessions from the advancing fire.[25] In addition, accusations of soldiers themselves engaging in looting also surfaced.[26]

Relocation and housing of displaced

The Army built 5,610 redwood and fir "relief houses" to accommodate 20,000 displaced people. The houses were designed by John McLaren, and were grouped in eleven camps, packed close to each other and rented to people for two dollars per month until rebuilding was completed. They were painted olive drab, partly to blend in with the site, and partly because the military had large quantities of olive drab paint on hand. The camps had a peak population of 16,448 people, but by 1907 most people had moved out. The camps were then re-used as garages, storage spaces or shops. The cottages cost on average $100–741 to put up. The $2 monthly rents went towards the full purchase price of $50. Most of the shacks have been destroyed, but a small number survived. One of the modest 720 sq ft (67 m2) homes was recently purchased for more than $600,000.[27]

Aftermath and reconstruction

Property losses from the disaster have been estimated to be more than $400 million.[28][29] An insurance industry source tallies insured losses at $235 million (equivalent to $5.67 billion in 2009 dollars[30][28]).

Political and business leaders strongly downplayed the effects of the earthquake, fearing loss of outside investment in the city which was badly needed to rebuild.[28] In his first public statement, California governor George C. Pardee emphasized the need to rebuild quickly: "this is not the first time that San Francisco has been destroyed by fire, I have not the slightest doubt that the City by the Golden Gate will be speedily rebuilt, and will, almost before we know it, resume her former great activity."[31] The earthquake itself is not even mentioned in the statement. Fatality and monetary damage estimates were manipulated.[28][32] In the rush to rebuild the city, building standards were first made much more stringent, but soon after about a year, in fact lowered instead of strengthened "by upwards of 50%" according to historian Robert Hansen. The History Channel International series Mega Disasters attributes the rollback of the strict codes to complaints by contractors under duress from city fathers for the slow rate of reconstruction.[28] In the report, the building codes were taken back off the books in only 13 months, while the official death toll was placed at a mere 379[28]—which estimates raised plenty of eyebrows even at the time, as it was undoubtably theretofore the most photographed disaster known to mankind, and the damage suggests far more would have been trapped as is backed by anecdotal stories of many being trapped in fallen buildings then consumed by flames.[28] For over forty years now, research by a San Francisco librarian has amassed a death toll well in excess of three thousand, and she has opined the effort will go on for years more.[28] Part of the rush to rebuild was the desire to be ready for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition set to be hosted in 1915, and indeed by that year there was almost no visible damage to be seen in the city. The total disregard to earthquake safety plagues the city today, as a majority of buildings standing in the city today were built in the first half of the 20th century to the lax codes. Building standards did not reach even 1906 levels until the 1950s.[28] A detailed analysis of the city today estimates that an earthquake less powerful than the 1906 quake would completely destroy many sections of the city and result in thousands of deaths.[28]

Almost immediately after the quake (and even during the disaster), planning and reconstruction plans were hatched to quickly rebuild the city. Rebuilding funds were immediately tied up by the fact that virtually all the major banks had been sites of the conflagration, requiring a lengthy wait of seven-to-ten days before their fire-proof vaults could cool sufficiently to be safely opened without risk of spontaneous combustion. Tiny Bank of Italy, however, had no vault and evacuated its funds to the country and was the only bank able to provide liquidity in the immediate aftermath. Its president also immediately chartered and financed the sending of two ships to return with shiploads of lumber from Washington and Oregon mills which provided the initial reconstruction materials and surge; today that bank has been renamed as Bank of America.[28]

The grander of citywide reconstruction schemes, however, required investment from Eastern monetary sources, hence the spin and de-emphasis of the earthquake, the promulgation of the tough new building codes, and subsequent reputation sensitive actions such as the official low death toll.[28] One of the more famous and ambitious plans came from famed urban planner Daniel Burnham. His bold plan called for, among other proposals, Haussmann-style avenues, boulevards, arterial thoroughfares that radiated across the city, a massive civic center complex with classical structures, and what would have been the largest urban park in the world, stretching from Twin Peaks to Lake Merced with a large atheneum at its peak. But this plan was dismissed at the time as impractical and unrealistic.

For example, real estate investors and other land owners were against the idea due to the large amount of land the city would have to purchase to realize such proposals. City fathers likewise attempted at the time to eliminate the Chinese population and export Chinatown (and other poor populations) to the edge of the county where the Chinese could still contribute to the local taxbase.[28] The Chinese occupants had other ideas and prevailed instead. Chinatown was rebuilt in the newer, modern, Western form that exists today. In fact, the destruction of City Hall and the Hall of Records enabled thousands of Chinese immigrants to claim residency and citizenship, creating a backdoor to the Chinese Exclusion Act, and bring in their relatives from China.[33][34][35]

Bird's-eye view, surrounding Ferry Building, looking west on Market Street. Photographed from tower.

While the original street grid was restored, many of Burnham's proposals inadvertently saw the light of day, such as a neoclassical civic center complex, wider streets, a preference of arterial thoroughfares, a subway under Market Street, a more people-friendly Fisherman's Wharf, and a monument to the city on Telegraph Hill, Coit Tower.

The earthquake was also responsible for the development of the Pacific Heights neighborhood. The immense power of the earthquake had destroyed almost all of the mansions on Nob Hill except for the Flood Mansion. Others which hadn't been destroyed were dynamited by the Army forces aiding the firefighting efforts in attempts to create firebreaks. As one indirect result, the wealthy looked westward where the land was cheap and relatively undeveloped, and where there were better views and a consistently warmer climate. Constructing new mansions without reclaiming and clearing old rubble simply sped attaining new homes in the tent city during the reconstruction.[28] In the years after the first world war, the "money" on Nob Hill migrated to Pacific Heights, where it has remained to this day.

Reconstruction was swift, and largely completed by 1915, in time for the Panama-Pacific Exposition which celebrated the reconstruction of the city and its "rise from the ashes".

Since 1915, the city has officially commemorated the disaster each year by gathering the remaining survivors at Lotta's Fountain, a fountain in the city's financial district that served as a meeting point during the disaster for people to look for loved ones and exchange information.

Panorama of San Francisco in ruins, taken via kite photography approx. 2,000 feet (609 m) above San Francisco Bay overlooking water front. Sunset over Golden Gate. May 28th 1906 by George R. Lawrence

International assistance and insurance payments

During the first few days after news of the disaster reached the rest of the world, relief efforts reached over $5,000,000.[28] London, England, had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. Individual citizens and businesses donated large sums of money for the relief effort: Standard Oil gave $100,000; Andrew Carnegie gave $100,000; the Dominion of Canada made a special appropriation of $100,000 and even the Bank of Canada in Toronto gave $25,000. The US government quickly voted for one million dollars in relief supplies which were immediately rushed to the area, including supplies for food kitchens and many thousands of tents that city dwellers would occupy the next several years.[28] These relief efforts, however, were not nearly enough to get families on their feet again, and consequently the burden was placed on wealthier members of the city, who were reluctant to assist in the rebuilding of homes they were not responsible for. All residents were eligible for daily meals served from a number of communal soup kitchens and citizens as far away as Idaho and Utah were known to send daily loaves of bread to San Francisco as relief supplies as co-ordinated by the railroads.[28]

Insurance companies, faced with staggering claims of $250 million,[36] paid out between $235 million and $265 million on policyholders' claims, often for fire damage only, since shake damage from earthquakes was excluded from coverage under most policies.[37][38] At least 137 insurance companies were directly involved and another 17 as reinsurers.[39] Twenty companies went bankrupt, and most excluded shake damage claims.[38] However, Lloyds of London reports having paid all claims in full, more than 50 million dollars[40] and the insurance companies in Hartford, Connecticut report also paying every claim in full; the Hartford Fire Insurance Company paying over 11 million dollars and Aetna Insurance Company almost $3 million.[38]

The earthquake was the worst single incident for the insurance industry before the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the largest US relief effort ever to this day, including even Hurricane Katrina.[28] After the 1906 earthquake, a global discussion arose concerning a legally flawless exclusion of the earthquake hazard from fire insurance contracts. It was pressed ahead mainly by re-insurers. Their aim was the globally uniform solution of the problem of earthquake hazard in fire insurance contracts. Until 1910, a few countries, especially in Europe, followed the call for an exclusion of the earthquake hazard from all fire insurance contracts. In the US, however, the question was discussed differently. But the traumatized public reacted with fierce opposition. On August 1, 1909, the California Senate enacted the California Standard Form of Fire Insurance Policy, which did not contain any earthquake clause. Thus the state decided that insurers would have to pay again if another earthquake was followed by fires. Other earthquake-endangered countries followed the California example.[41] The insurance payments heavily affected the international financial system. Gold transfers from European insurance companies to policyholders in San Francisco led to a rise in interest rates, subsequently to a lack of available loans and finally to the Knickerbocker Trust Company crisis of October 1907 which led to the Panic of 1907.[42]

Centennial commemorations

The earthquake also affected the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto. The image of the fallen statue of zoologist Louis Agassiz outside the Zoology building has since become one of the iconic images of the earthquake.

The 1906 Centennial Alliance[43] was set up as a clearing-house for various centennial events commemorating the earthquake. Award presentations, religious services, a National Geographic TV movie,[44] a projection of fire onto the Coit Tower,[45] memorials, and lectures were part of the commemorations. The USGS Earthquake Hazards Program issued a series of Internet documents,[46] and the tourism industry promoted the 100th anniversary as well.[47]

Eleven survivors of the 1906 earthquake attended the centennial commemorations, including Irma Mae Weule, who was the oldest survivor of the quake at the time of her death in 2008 at the age of 109.[48] Vivian Illing (December 25, 1900 – January 22, 2009) was believed to be the second-oldest survivor at the time of her death, leaving Herbert Hamrol (January 10, 1903 – February 4, 2009) as the last known remaining survivor at the time of his death.

However, shortly after Hamrol's death, two more remaining childhood survivors were discovered. Bill Del Monte, 103, and Jeannete Scola Trapani (April 21, 1902 - December 28, 2009)[49], 106, stated that they stopped attending events commemorating the earthquake when it became too much trouble for them. The discovery has opened up the possibility that there may still be more living survivors left that have not become public knowledge.[50] Another survivor, Rose Cliver, 106, attended her first-ever earthquake reunion celebration, the 103rd anniversary of the earthquake, along with Del Monte on April 18, 2009.[51]

Analysis

The San Andreas Fault runs in a northwest-southeast line along the coast. The numbers on the fault line indicate how far the ground surface slipped (in feet) at that location as a result of the 1906 earthquake.

For a number of years, the epicenter of the quake was assumed to be near the town of Olema, in the Point Reyes area of Marin County, because of evidence of the degree of local earth displacement. In the 1960s, a seismologist at UC Berkeley proposed that the epicenter was more likely offshore of San Francisco, to the northwest of the Golden Gate. However, the most recent analysis by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) shows that the most likely epicenter was very near Mussel Rock on the coast of Daly City, an adjacent suburb just south of San Francisco.[52] An offshore epicenter is supported by the occurrence of a local tsunami recorded by a tidal gauge at the San Francisco Presidio; the wave had an amplitude of approximately 3 in (8 cm) and an approximate period of 40–45 minutes.[53]

The most important characteristic of the shaking intensity noted in Lawson's (1908) report was the clear correlation of intensity with underlying geologic conditions. Areas situated in sediment-filled valleys sustained stronger shaking than nearby bedrock sites, and the strongest shaking occurred in areas of Bay where landfill failed in the earthquake (earthquake liquefaction). Modern seismic-zonation practice accounts for the differences in seismic hazard posed by varying geologic conditions.[54]

The USGS estimates that the earthquake measured a powerful 7.8 on the moment magnitude scale. The earthquake caused ruptures visible on the surface for a length of 470 kilometers (290 miles). Modified Mercalli Intensities of VII to IX paralleled the length of the rupture, extending as far as 80 kilometers inland from the fault trace[55]

In popular culture

The earthquake was the basis of the 1936 MGM film San Francisco, which starred Clark Gable, Jeanette Macdonald, and Spencer Tracy, who received an Academy Award for Best Actor nomination for this film. In 1938 a Warner Brothers movie entitled "The Sisters", starring Bette Davis and Errol Flynn, featured a sequence portraying the earthquake.

An epic Warner Bros. film entitled 1906 and directed by Brad Bird is currently in production. Based on the earthquake, it is an adaptation of the best-selling James Dalessandro novel of the same name.[56]

The National Film Registry added a documentary of the footage of the earthquake, entitled "San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, April 18, 1906", to its list of American films for preservation. The film was selected along with 24 other films in 2005, and is currently one of 500 films recognized by the Registry.[57]

Rita Hayworth sang "Put the Blame on Mame" in Gilda, in 1946. It starts with the line: "When they had the Earthquake in San Francisco back in 1906, they said that old mother nature was up to her old tricks." In keeping with the film character Gilda being "the ultimate femme fatale", the song sung by her at two scenes facetiously credits the amorous activities of a woman named "Mame" (the name evidently chosen to rhyme with "blame") as the true cause of three well-known cataclysmic events in American history: The Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Great Blizzard of 1888 in New York City and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Location of the Focal Region and Hypocenter of the California Earthquake of April 18, 1906
  2. ^ a b USGS - The Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake
  3. ^ 1906 Earthquake: What was the magnitude? USGS Earthquake Hazards Program - Northern California, Accessed September 19, 2006
  4. ^ 1906 Earthquake: How long was the 1906 Crack? USGS Earthquake Hazards Program - Northern California, Accessed September 3, 2006
  5. ^ Timeline of the San Francisco Earthquake April 18 - 23, 1906, The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco
  6. ^ John A. Kilpatrick and Sofia Dermisi, Aftermath of Katrina: Recommendations for Real Estate Research, Journal of Real Estate Literature, Spring, 2007
  7. ^ William Bronson, The Earth Shook, The Sky Burned (San Francisco:Chroncile Books, 1996)
  8. ^ Casualties and Damage after the 1906 earthquake USGS Earthquake Hazards Program - Northern California, Accessed September 4, 2006
  9. ^ displays at the US Army Corps of Engineers Museum in Sausalito, CA
  10. ^ Library of Congress P&P Online Catalog - Panoramic Photographs (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pp/panabt.html)
  11. ^ A dreadful catastrophe visits Santa Rosa. Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif
  12. ^ Sta. Rosa [i.e. Santa Rosa] Courthouse
  13. ^ The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire
  14. ^ 1906 San Francisco Quake: How large was the offset? USGS Earthquake Hazards Program - Northern California, Accessed September 3, 2006
  15. ^ Seasonal Seismicity of Northern California Before the Great 1906 Earthquake, (Journal) Pure and Applied Geophysics, ISSN 0033-4553 (Print) 1420-9136 (Online), volume 159, Numbers 1–3 / January, 2002, Pages 7–62.
  16. ^ "Over 500 Dead, $200,000,000 Lost in San Francisco Earthquake.". The New York Times. April 18, 1906. http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/0418.html#article. Retrieved 2008-04-19. "Earthquake and fire today have put nearly half of San Francisco in ruins. About 500 persons have been killed, a thousand injured, and the property loss will exceed $200,000,000." 
  17. ^ Stephen Sobriner, What really happened in San Francisco in the earthquake of 1906. 100th Anniversary 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Conference, 2006
  18. ^ a b San Francisco Museum
  19. ^ NPS Signal Corps History
  20. ^ NY Times Obituary for Heinrich Conrad, April 27, 1909
  21. ^ Alice Eastwood, The Coniferae of the Santa Lucia Mountains
  22. ^ Double Cone Quarterly, Fall Equinox, volume VII, Number 3 (2004)
  23. ^ The Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry
  24. ^ The Bear Flag, The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco
  25. ^ "Mayor Eugene Schmitz' Famed "Shoot-to-Kill" Order". Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco. http://www.sfmuseum.org/1906.2/killproc.html. Retrieved 2006-09-03. 
  26. ^ "Looting Claims Against the U.S. Army Following the 1906 Earthquake". Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco. http://www.sfmuseum.org/1906.2/wolfe.html. Retrieved 2008-03-26. 
  27. ^ Reality Times: 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Housing Is Valuable Piece Of History by Blanche Evans
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r History Channel International series Mega Disasters, "San Francisco Earthquake", (2006), rebroadcast 02:00–03:00, November 8, 2008 (UTC)
  29. ^ Casualties and damage after the 1906 Earthquake. United States Geological Survey. Accessed December 6, 2006
  30. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2008. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
  31. ^ San Francisco History The New San Francisco Magazine May 1906
  32. ^ The Great Earthquake and Firestorms of 1906 Philip L. Fradkin
  33. ^ Christoph Strupp, Dealing with Disaster: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, http://repositories.cdlib.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1066&context=ies.
  34. ^ Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906: Its Effects on Chinatown Chinese Historical Society of America, Accessed December 2, 2006
  35. ^ The Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Niderost, Eric, American History, April 2006, Accessed December 2, 2006
  36. ^ The New York Herald (European Edition) of April 21, 1906, p. 2.
  37. ^ R. K. Mackenzie, The San Francisco earthquake & conflagration. Typoscript, Bancroft Library, Berkeley, 1907.
  38. ^ a b c "Aetna At-A-Glance: Aetna History", Aetna company information
  39. ^ For a list of these companies see Tilmann Röder, Rechtsbildung im wirtschaftlichen Weltverkehr. Das Erdbeben von San Francisco und die internationale Standardisierung von Vertragsbedingungen (1871-1914), p.341–351.
  40. ^ The role of Lloyd's in the reconstruction Lloyd's of London, Accessed December 6, 2006
  41. ^ See T. Röder, The Roots of the "New Law Merchant": How the international standardization of contracts and clauses changed business law, http://www.rewi.hu-berlin.de/FHI/articles/0610roeder.htm.
  42. ^ Kerry A. Odell and Marc D. Weidenmier, Real Shock, Monetary Aftershock: The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and the Panic of 1907, The Journal of Economic History, 2005, vol. 64, issue 04, p. 1002–1027.
  43. ^ 1906 Centennial Alliance
  44. ^ National Geographic TV movie
  45. ^ projection of fire onto the Coit Tower
  46. ^ series of Internet documents
  47. ^ 100th anniversary
  48. ^ Nolte (2008-08-16). "1906 earthquake survivor Irma Mae Weule dies". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/08/15/BAQ712C258.DTL. Retrieved 2008-08-17. 
  49. ^ "Jeanette Trapani obituary". 2009-12-31. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sfgate/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=137997169. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  50. ^ San Francisco Chronicle, 2009-02-07, Calling any '06 San Francisco quake survivors
  51. ^ "SF remembers great quake on 103rd anniversary". Archived from the original on 2009-07-20. http://www.webcitation.org/5iQJf3VHY. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  52. ^ Officials unmoved by quake notoriety Daly City
  53. ^ Tsunami Record from the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, United States Geological Survey, 2008
  54. ^ California Geological Survey - Seismic Hazards Zonation Program - Seismic Hazards Mapping regulations
  55. ^ MMI ShakeMap of California for the 1906 San Francisco earthquake inferred from Lawson (1908) by Boatwright and Bundock (2005)
  56. ^ Knight, Heather (March 18, 2009). "It's true: "1906" film could be filmed in Canada". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2009-07-29. http://www.webcitation.org/5idsOIYGm. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  57. ^ "Librarian of Congress Adds 25 Films to National Film Registry". Library of Congress. December 20, 2005. http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2005/05-262.html. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 

References

Contemporary disaster accounts

External links


1906 San Francisco earthquake
Date April 18, 1906 (1906-04-18)
Magnitude 7.9 Mw[1]
Depth 8 kilometres (5.0 mi)[2]
Epicenter location San Francisco
Countries or regions affected United States
(San Francisco Bay Area)
Casualties 3,000+ killed
[[File:|right|thumb|250px|Stockton Street from Union Square, looking toward Market Street]]
File:San Francisco Fire Sacramento Street
Arnold Genthe's famous photograph, looking toward the fire on Sacramento Street

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.[3] The most widely accepted estimate for the magnitude of the earthquake is a moment magnitude (Mw) of 7.9;[1] however, other values have been proposed, from 7.7 to as high as 8.25.[4] 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).[5] Shaking was felt from Oregon to Los Angeles, and inland as far as central Nevada.[6] The earthquake and resulting fire are remembered as one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States[7] alongside the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. The death toll from the earthquake and resulting fire, estimated to be above 3,000,[8] 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.[9]

Contents

Impact

At the time, 375 deaths were reported;[10] 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. Today, this figure has been revised to an estimate of at least 3,000.[11] Most of the deaths occurred in San Francisco itself, but 189 were reported elsewhere in the Bay Area;[3] nearby cities, such as Santa Rosa and San Jose also suffered severe damage. 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.

[[File:|left|thumb|250px|Houses damaged by the earthquake]]Between 227,000 and 300,000 people were left homeless out of a population of about 410,000; half of the people who evacuated (evacuees) 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.[12]

The earthquake and fire would leave a long-standing and significant impression on the development of California. At the time of the disaster, San Francisco had been the ninth-largest city in the United States and the largest on the West Coast, with a population of about 410,000. Over a period of 60 years, the city had become the financial, trade and cultural center of the West; operated the busiest port on the West Coast; and was the "gateway to the Pacific", through which growing US economic and military power was projected into the Pacific and Asia. Over 80% of the city was destroyed by the earthquake and fire. Though San Francisco would rebuild quickly, the disaster would divert trade, industry and population growth south to Los Angeles, which during the 20th century would become the largest and most important urban area in the West. In addition, many of the city's leading poets and writers retreated to Carmel-by-the-Sea where, as "The Barness", they established the arts colony reputation that continues today.

The 1908 Lawson Report, a study of the 1906 quake led 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).

File:San Francisco 1906 earthquake Panoramic
Panoramic view of earthquake and fire damage from Stanford Mansion site, April 18 – 21, 1906[13]
Damage to other towns

Although the impact of the earthquake on San Francisco was the most famous, the earthquake also inflicted considerable damage on several other cities. These include San Jose, which suffered considerable damage, and Santa Rosa, the entire downtown of which was essentially destroyed.[14][15][16]

Geology

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake was caused by a rupture on the San Andreas Fault, a continental transform fault that forms part of the boundary between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate. This fault runs the length of California from the Salton Sea in the south to Cape Mendocino to the north, a distance of about 800 miles (1,300 km). The earthquake ruptured the northern third of the fault for a distance of 296 miles (477 km). The maximum observed surface displacement was about 20 feet (6 m); however, geodetic measurements show displacements of up to 28 feet (8.5 m).[17]

A strong foreshock preceded the mainshock by about 20 to 25 seconds. The strong shaking of the main shock lasted about 42 seconds. The shaking intensity as described on the Modified Mercalli intensity scale reached VIII in San Francisco and up to IX in areas to the north like Santa Rosa where destruction was devastating. There were decades of minor earthquakes – more than at any other time in the historical record for northern California – before the 1906 quake. Widely interpreted previously as precursory activity to the 1906 earthquake, they have been found to have a strong seasonal pattern and have been postulated to be due to large seasonal sediment loads in coastal bays that overlie faults as a result of the erosion caused by "hydraulic mining" in the later years of the California Gold Rush.[18]

Subsequent fires

[[File:|right|thumb|200px|Burning of San Francisco, Mission District]]

As damaging as the earthquake and its aftershocks were, the fires that burned out of control afterward were even more destructive.[19] It has been estimated that up to 90% of the total destruction was the result of the subsequent fires.[20] Over 30 fires, caused by ruptured gas mains, destroyed approximately 25,000 buildings on 490 city blocks. Worst of all, many were started when firefighters, untrained in the use of dynamite, attempted to demolish buildings to create firebreaks, which resulted in the destruction of more than 50% of the buildings that would have otherwise survived.[21] The city's Fire Chief, Dennis T. Sullivan, who would have been responsible, had died in the initial quake. The dynamited buildings themselves often caught fire. In all, the fires burned for four days and nights.

Due to a widespread practice by insurers to indemnify San Francisco properties from fire, but not earthquake damage, most of the destruction in the city was blamed on the fires. Some property owners deliberately set fire to damaged properties, in order to claim them on their insurance. Capt. Leonard D. Wildman of the U.S. Army Signal Corps[22] reported that he "was stopped by a fireman who told me that people in that neighborhood were firing their houses… they were told that they would not get their insurance on buildings damaged by the earthquake unless they were damaged by fire."[21]

As water mains were also broken, the city fire department had few resources with which to fight the fires. Several fires in the downtown area merged to become one giant inferno. Brigadier General Frederick Funston, commander of the Presidio of San Francisco and a resident of San Francisco, tried to bring the fire under control by detonating blocks of buildings around the fire to create firebreaks with all sorts of means, ranging from black powder and dynamite to even artillery barrages. Often the explosions set the ruins on fire or helped spread it.

One landmark building lost in the fire was the Palace Hotel, subsequently rebuilt, which had many famous visitors, including royalty and celebrated performers. It was constructed in 1875 primarily financed by Bank of California co-founder William Ralston, the "man who built San Francisco." In April 1906, the tenor Enrico Caruso and members of the Metropolitan Opera Company came to San Francisco to give a series of performances at the Grand Opera House. The night after Caruso's performance in Carmen, the tenor was awakened in the early morning in his Palace Hotel suite by a strong jolt. Clutching an autographed photo of President Theodore Roosevelt, Caruso made an effort to get out of the city, first by boat and then by train, and vowed never to return to San Francisco. He kept his word. The Metropolitan Opera Company lost all of its traveling sets and costumes in the earthquake and ensuing fires.[23]

Some of the greatest losses from fire were in scientific laboratories. Alice Eastwood, the Curator of Botany at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, is credited with saving nearly 1,500 specimens, including the entire type specimen collection for a newly discovered and extremely rare species, before the remainder of the largest botanical collection in the western United States was consumed by fire.[24][25] The entire laboratory and all the records of Benjamin R. Jacobs, a biochemist who was researching the nutrition of everyday foods, was lost.[26] Another treasure lost in the fires was the original California flag used in the 1846 Bear Flag Revolt at Sonoma, which at the time was being stored in a state building in San Francisco.[27]

The army's role in the aftermath

File:Thank God For The
The famous painting Thank God for the Soldiers, a period piece depicting U.S. Army soldiers bringing in critical supplies for the survivors.
File:Soldiers looting 1906
Soldiers of the 22nd Infantry Regiment looting during the fire
[[File:|thumb|right|200px|Displaced victims of the earthquake, in front of a temporary tent shelter. Other tents can be seen in the background at right.]]
File:Row of
One of the eleven temporary housing camps in 1906

The city's interim fire chief (the original one was killed when the earthquake first struck) sent an urgent request to the Presidio, an Army post on the edge of the stricken city, for dynamite. Funston had already decided the situation required the use of troops. Collaring a policeman, he sent word to Mayor Schmitz of his decision to assist, and then ordered Army troops from as far away as Angel Island to mobilize and come into the City. Explosives were ferried across the Bay from the California Powder Works in what is now Hercules.

During the first few days, soldiers provided valuable services patrolling streets to discourage looting and guarding buildings such as the U.S. Mint, post office, and county jail. They aided the fire department in dynamiting to demolish buildings in the path of the fires. The Army also became responsible for feeding, sheltering, and clothing the tens of thousands of displaced residents of the city. Under the command of Funston's superior, Major General Adolphus Greely, Commanding Officer, Pacific Division, over 4,000 troops saw service during the emergency. On July 1, 1906, civil authorities assumed responsibility for relief efforts, and the Army withdrew from the city.

On April 18, in response to riots among evacuees and looting, Mayor Schmitz issued and ordered posted a proclamation that "The Federal Troops, the members of the Regular Police Force and all Special Police Officers have been authorized by me to kill any and all persons found engaged in Looting or in the Commission of Any Other Crime." It is estimated that as many as 500 people were shot dead in the city, many of whom, it has been suggested, were not looting at all, but were attempting to save their own possessions from the advancing fire.[28] In addition, accusations of soldiers themselves engaging in looting also surfaced.[29]

Early on April 18, 1906, recently retired Captain Edward Ord of the 22nd Infantry Regiment was appointed a Special Police Officer by Mayor Eugene Schmitz and liasioned with Major General Adolphus Greely for relief work with the 22nd Regiment and other military units involved in the emergency. Ord later wrote a long letter[30] to his mother on the 20th of April regarding Schmitz' "Shoot-to-Kill" Order and some “despicable” behavior of certain soldiers of his former 22nd Regiment from the Presidio who were looting. He also made it clear that the majority of soldiers served the community well.[29][31]

Relocation and housing of displaced

The Army built 5,610 redwood and fir "relief houses" to accommodate 20,000 displaced people. The houses were designed by John McLaren, and were grouped in eleven camps, packed close to each other and rented to people for two dollars per month until rebuilding was completed. They were painted olive drab, partly to blend in with the site, and partly because the military had large quantities of olive drab paint on hand. The camps had a peak population of 16,448 people, but by 1907 most people had moved out. The camps were then re-used as garages, storage spaces or shops. The cottages cost on average $100–741 to put up. The $2 monthly rents went towards the full purchase price of $50. Most of the shacks have been destroyed, but a small number survived. One of the modest 720 sq ft (67 m2) homes was recently purchased for more than $600,000.[32]

Aftermath and reconstruction

Property losses from the disaster have been estimated to be more than $400 million.[33][34] An insurance industry source tallies insured losses at $235 million (equivalent to $5.67 billion in 2010 dollars[35][33]).

Political and business leaders strongly downplayed the effects of the earthquake, fearing loss of outside investment in the city which was badly needed to rebuild.[33] In his first public statement, California governor George C. Pardee emphasized the need to rebuild quickly: "This is not the first time that San Francisco has been destroyed by fire, I have not the slightest doubt that the City by the Golden Gate will be speedily rebuilt, and will, almost before we know it, resume her former great activity."[36] The earthquake itself is not even mentioned in the statement. Fatality and monetary damage estimates were manipulated.[33][37] In the rush to rebuild the city, building standards were first made much more stringent, but after about a year, they were in fact lowered, instead of strengthened, "by upwards of 50%" according to historian Robert Hansen. The History Channel International series Mega Disasters attributes the rollback of the strict codes to complaints by contractors under duress from city fathers for the slow rate of reconstruction.[33] In the report, the building codes were taken back off the books in only 13 months, while the official death toll was placed at a mere 379[33]—which estimates raised plenty of eyebrows even at the time, as it was undoubtedly the most photographed disaster then known to mankind, and the damage suggests far more would have been trapped as is backed by anecdotal stories of many being trapped in fallen buildings then consumed by flames.[33] For over forty years now, research by a San Francisco librarian has amassed a death toll well in excess of three thousand, and she has opined the effort will go on for years more.[33] Part of the rush to rebuild was the desire to be ready for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition set to be hosted in 1915, and indeed by that year there was almost no visible damage to be seen in the city. The total disregard to earthquake safety plagues the city today, as a majority of buildings standing in the city today were built in the first half of the 20th century to the lax codes. Building standards did not reach even 1906 levels until the 1950s.[33] A detailed analysis of the city today estimates that an earthquake less powerful than the 1906 quake would completely destroy many sections of the city and result in thousands of deaths.[33]

Almost immediately after the quake (and even during the disaster), planning and reconstruction plans were hatched to quickly rebuild the city. Rebuilding funds were immediately tied up by the fact that virtually all the major banks had been sites of the conflagration, requiring a lengthy wait of seven-to-ten days before their fire-proof vaults could cool sufficiently to be safely opened without risk of spontaneous combustion. The Bank of Italy, however, had no vault and evacuated its funds to the country and was the only bank able to provide liquidity in the immediate aftermath. Its president also immediately chartered and financed the sending of two ships to return with shiploads of lumber from Washington and Oregon mills which provided the initial reconstruction materials and surge. In 1929, Bank of Italy was renamed and is now known as Bank of America.[33]

The grander of citywide reconstruction schemes, however, required investment from Eastern monetary sources, hence the spin and de-emphasis of the earthquake, the promulgation of the tough new building codes, and subsequent reputation sensitive actions such as the official low death toll.[33] One of the more famous and ambitious plans came from famed urban planner Daniel Burnham. His bold plan called for, among other proposals, Haussmann-style avenues, boulevards, arterial thoroughfares that radiated across the city, a massive civic center complex with classical structures, and what would have been the largest urban park in the world, stretching from Twin Peaks to Lake Merced with a large atheneum at its peak. But this plan was dismissed at the time as impractical and unrealistic.

For example, real estate investors and other land owners were against the idea due to the large amount of land the city would have to purchase to realize such proposals. City fathers likewise attempted at the time to eliminate the Chinese population and export Chinatown (and other poor populations) to the edge of the county where the Chinese could still contribute to the local taxbase.[33] The Chinese occupants had other ideas and prevailed instead. Chinatown was rebuilt in the newer, modern, Western form that exists today. In fact, the destruction of City Hall and the Hall of Records enabled thousands of Chinese immigrants to claim residency and citizenship, creating a backdoor to the Chinese Exclusion Act, and bring in their relatives from China.[38][39][40] [[File:|right|thumb|200px|Bird's-eye view, surrounding Ferry Building, looking west on Market Street. Photographed from tower.]] While the original street grid was restored, many of Burnham's proposals inadvertently saw the light of day, such as a neoclassical civic center complex, wider streets, a preference of arterial thoroughfares, a subway under Market Street, a more people-friendly Fisherman's Wharf, and a monument to the city on Telegraph Hill, Coit Tower.

The earthquake was also responsible for the development of the Pacific Heights neighborhood. The immense power of the earthquake had destroyed almost all of the mansions on Nob Hill except for the Flood Mansion. Others which hadn't been destroyed were dynamited by the Army forces aiding the firefighting efforts in attempts to create firebreaks. As one indirect result, the wealthy looked westward where the land was cheap and relatively undeveloped, and where there were better views and a consistently warmer climate. Constructing new mansions without reclaiming and clearing old rubble simply sped attaining new homes in the tent city during the reconstruction.[33] In the years after the first world war, the "money" on Nob Hill migrated to Pacific Heights, where it has remained to this day.

Reconstruction was swift, and largely completed by 1915, in time for the Panama-Pacific Exposition which celebrated the reconstruction of the city and its "rise from the ashes".

Since 1915, the city has officially commemorated the disaster each year by gathering the remaining survivors at Lotta's Fountain, a fountain in the city's financial district that served as a meeting point during the disaster for people to look for loved ones and exchange information.

File:San Francisco in ruin
Panorama of San Francisco in ruins, taken via kite photography approx. 2,000 feet (609 m) above San Francisco Bay overlooking water front. Sunset over Golden Gate. May 28, 1906 by George R. Lawrence

International assistance and insurance payments

During the first few days after news of the disaster reached the rest of the world, relief efforts reached over $5,000,000.[33] London, England, had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. Individual citizens and businesses donated large sums of money for the relief effort: Standard Oil gave $100,000; Andrew Carnegie gave $100,000; the Dominion of Canada made a special appropriation of $100,000 and even the Bank of Canada in Toronto gave $25,000. The US government quickly voted for one million dollars in relief supplies which were immediately rushed to the area, including supplies for food kitchens and many thousands of tents that city dwellers would occupy the next several years.[33] These relief efforts, however, were not nearly enough to get families on their feet again, and consequently the burden was placed on wealthier members of the city, who were reluctant to assist in the rebuilding of homes they were not responsible for. All residents were eligible for daily meals served from a number of communal soup kitchens and citizens as far away as Idaho and Utah were known to send daily loaves of bread to San Francisco as relief supplies as co-ordinated by the railroads.[33]

Insurance companies, faced with staggering claims of $250 million,[41] paid out between $235 million and $265 million on policyholders' claims, often for fire damage only, since shake damage from earthquakes was excluded from coverage under most policies.[42][43] At least 137 insurance companies were directly involved and another 17 as reinsurers.[44] Twenty companies went bankrupt, and most excluded shake damage claims.[43] However, Lloyds of London reports having paid all claims in full, more than $50 million[45] and the insurance companies in Hartford, Connecticut report also paying every claim in full, with the Hartford Fire Insurance Company paying over $11 million and Aetna Insurance Company almost $3 million.[43]

The earthquake was the worst single incident for the insurance industry before the September 11, 2001, attacks, and the largest U.S. relief effort ever to this day, including even Hurricane Katrina.[33] After the 1906 earthquake, a global discussion arose concerning a legally flawless exclusion of the earthquake hazard from fire insurance contracts. It was pressed ahead mainly by re-insurers. Their aim was the globally uniform solution of the problem of earthquake hazard in fire insurance contracts. Until 1910, a few countries, especially in Europe, followed the call for an exclusion of the earthquake hazard from all fire insurance contracts. In the US, however, the question was discussed differently. But the traumatized public reacted with fierce opposition. On August 1, 1909, the California Senate enacted the California Standard Form of Fire Insurance Policy, which did not contain any earthquake clause. Thus the state decided that insurers would have to pay again if another earthquake was followed by fires. Other earthquake-endangered countries followed the California example.[46] The insurance payments heavily affected the international financial system. Gold transfers from European insurance companies to policyholders in San Francisco led to a rise in interest rates, subsequently to a lack of available loans and finally to the Knickerbocker Trust Company crisis of October 1907 which led to the Panic of 1907.[47]

Centennial commemorations

File:Agassiz statue
The earthquake also affected the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto. The image of the fallen statue of geologist Louis Agassiz outside the Zoology building has since become one of the iconic images of the earthquake.

The 1906 Centennial Alliance[48] was set up as a clearing-house for various centennial events commemorating the earthquake. Award presentations, religious services, a National Geographic TV movie,[49] a projection of fire onto the Coit Tower,[50] memorials, and lectures were part of the commemorations. The USGS Earthquake Hazards Program issued a series of Internet documents,[51] and the tourism industry promoted the 100th anniversary as well.[52]

Eleven survivors of the 1906 earthquake attended the centennial commemorations in 2006, including Irma Mae Weule, who was the oldest survivor of the quake at the time of her death in 2008 at the age of 109.[53] Vivian Illing (December 25, 1900 – January 22, 2009) was believed to be the second-oldest survivor at the time of her death, leaving Herbert Hamrol (January 10, 1903 – February 4, 2009) as the last known remaining survivor at the time of his death.

However, shortly after Hamrol's death, two more remaining childhood survivors were discovered. Bill Del Monte, 103, and Jeanette Scola Trapani (April 21, 1902 – December 28, 2009),[54] 106, stated that they stopped attending events commemorating the earthquake when it became too much trouble for them. The discovery has opened up the possibility that there may still be more living survivors left that have not become public knowledge.[55] Another survivor, Rose Cliver, 106, attended her first-ever earthquake reunion celebration, the 103rd anniversary of the earthquake, along with Del Monte on April 18, 2009.[56] Nancy Stoner Sage died at the age of 105 in Colorado just three days short of the 104th anniversary of the earthquake on April 18, 2010. Del Monte, now 104, attended the event at Lotta's Fountain on April 18, 2010 and the dinner at John's Restaurant the night before.[57] Pebble Beach, California resident Ruth Newman, 109, is thought to be the oldest survivor.[58]

Analysis

File:Sfbay srt
The San Andreas Fault runs in a northwest-southeast line along the coast. The numbers on the fault line indicate how far the ground surface slipped (in feet) at that location as a result of the 1906 earthquake.

For a number of years, the epicenter of the quake was assumed to be near the town of Olema, in the Point Reyes area of Marin County, because of evidence of the degree of local earth displacement. In the 1960s, a seismologist at UC Berkeley proposed that the epicenter was more likely offshore of San Francisco, to the northwest of the Golden Gate. However, the most recent analysis by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) shows that the most likely epicenter was very near Mussel Rock on the coast of Daly City, an adjacent suburb just south of San Francisco.[59] An offshore epicenter is supported by the occurrence of a local tsunami recorded by a tidal gauge at the San Francisco Presidio; the wave had an amplitude of approximately 3 in (8 cm) and an approximate period of 40–45 minutes.[60]

The most important characteristic of the shaking intensity noted in Lawson's (1908) report was the clear correlation of intensity with underlying geologic conditions. Areas situated in sediment-filled valleys sustained stronger shaking than nearby bedrock sites, and the strongest shaking occurred in areas of Bay where landfill failed in the earthquake (earthquake liquefaction). Modern seismic-zonation practice accounts for the differences in seismic hazard posed by varying geologic conditions.[61]

The USGS estimates that the earthquake measured a powerful 7.9 on the moment magnitude scale.[1] The earthquake caused ruptures visible on the surface for a length of 470 kilometers (290 miles). Modified Mercalli Intensities of VII to IX paralleled the length of the rupture, extending as far as 80 kilometers inland from the fault trace[62]

In popular culture

The earthquake was the basis of the 1936 MGM film San Francisco, which starred Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald, and Spencer Tracy, who received an Academy Award for Best Actor nomination for this film. In 1938, a Warner Brothers movie entitled The Sisters, starring Bette Davis and Errol Flynn, featured a sequence portraying the earthquake, partly using footage from the 1927 Warners film Old San Francisco.

An epic Warner Brothers film entitled 1906 and directed by Brad Bird is currently in production. Based on the earthquake, it is an adaptation of the best-selling James Dalessandro novel of the same name.[63]

The National Film Registry added a documentary of the footage of the earthquake, entitled San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, April 18, 1906 to its list of American films for preservation. The film was selected along with 24 other films in 2005, and is currently one of 500 films recognized by the Registry.[64]

Rita Hayworth sang "Put the Blame on Mame" in Gilda (1946). The second verse starts with the line: "When they had the quake back in nineteen-six/They said Mother Nature was up to her old tricks" and "When she did the shimmy-shake/That brought on the Frisco quake". In keeping with the film character Gilda being "the ultimate femme fatale", the song sung by her in two scenes facetiously credits the amorous activities of a woman named "Mame" (the name evidently chosen to rhyme with "blame") as the true cause of three well-known cataclysmic events in American history – The Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Great Blizzard of 1888 in New York City, and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

The 1906 earthquake is used as a backdrop in the climatic chapters of the novel "The Chase" by author Clive Cussler.

See also

File:SF From Marin Highlands3.jpg San Francisco Bay Area portal

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Where can I learn more about the 1906 Earthquake?, Berkeley Seismological Laboratory.
  2. ^ Location of the Focal Region and Hypocenter of the California Earthquake of April 18, 1906
  3. ^ a b USGS – The Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake
  4. ^ 1906 Earthquake: What was the magnitude? USGS Earthquake Hazards Program – Northern California, Accessed September 19, 2006
  5. ^ 1906 Earthquake: How long was the 1906 Crack? USGS Earthquake Hazards Program – Northern California, Accessed September 3, 2006
  6. ^ Christine Gibson "Our 10 Greatest Natural Disasters," American Heritage, Aug./Sept. 2006.
  7. ^ John Dvorak "San Francisco Then and Now," American Heritage, April/May 2006.
  8. ^ Timeline of the San Francisco Earthquake April 18 – 23, 1906, The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco
  9. ^ John A. Kilpatrick and Sofia Dermisi, Aftermath of Katrina: Recommendations for Real Estate Research, Journal of Real Estate Literature, Spring, 2007
  10. ^ William Bronson, The Earth Shook, The Sky Burned (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1996)
  11. ^ Casualties and Damage after the 1906 earthquake USGS Earthquake Hazards Program – Northern California, Accessed September 4, 2006
  12. ^ displays at the US Army Corps of Engineers Museum in Sausalito, California
  13. ^ Library of Congress P&P Online Catalog – Panoramic Photographs (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pp/panabt.html)
  14. ^ A dreadful catastrophe visits Santa Rosa. Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif
  15. ^ Sta. Rosa [i.e. Santa Rosa] Courthouse
  16. ^ The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire
  17. ^ 1906 San Francisco Quake: How large was the offset? USGS Earthquake Hazards Program – Northern California, Accessed September 3, 2006
  18. ^ Seasonal Seismicity of Northern California Before the Great 1906 Earthquake, (Journal) Pure and Applied Geophysics, ISSN 0033-4553 (Print) 1420-9136 (Online), volume 159, Numbers 1–3 / January, 2002, Pages 7–62.
  19. ^ "Over 500 Dead, $200,000,000 Lost in San Francisco Earthquake.". The New York Times. April 18, 1906. http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/0418.html#article. Retrieved 2008-04-19. "Earthquake and fire today have put nearly half of San Francisco in ruins. About 500 persons have been killed, a thousand injured, and the property loss will exceed $200,000,000." 
  20. ^ Stephen Sobriner, What really happened in San Francisco in the earthquake of 1906. 100th Anniversary 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Conference, 2006
  21. ^ a b San Francisco Museum
  22. ^ NPS Signal Corps History
  23. ^ NY Times Obituary for Heinrich Conrad, April 27, 1909
  24. ^ Alice Eastwood, The Coniferae of the Santa Lucia Mountains
  25. ^ Double Cone Quarterly, Fall Equinox, volume VII, Number 3 (2004)
  26. ^ The Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry
  27. ^ The Bear Flag, The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco
  28. ^ "Mayor Eugene Schmitz' Famed "Shoot-to-Kill" Order". Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco. http://www.sfmuseum.org/1906.2/killproc.html. Retrieved 2006-09-03. 
  29. ^ a b "Looting Claims Against the U.S. Army Following the 1906 Earthquake". Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco. http://www.sfmuseum.org/1906.2/wolfe.html. Retrieved 2008-03-26. 
  30. ^ Various (2006). "ORD FAMILY PAPERS". Georgetown University Libraries Special Collections. Georgetown University Library, 37th and N Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20057. http://www.library.georgetown.edu/dept/speccoll/cl146.htm. Retrieved October 7, 2009. 
  31. ^ "Mayor Eugene Schmitz' Famed "Shoot-to-Kill" Order". Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco. http://www.sfmuseum.org/1906.2/killproc.html. Retrieved 2006-09-03. 
  32. ^ Reality Times: 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Housing Is Valuable Piece Of History by Blanche Evans
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r History Channel International series Mega Disasters, "San Francisco Earthquake", (2006), rebroadcast 02:00–03:00, November 8, 2008 (UTC)
  34. ^ Casualties and damage after the 1906 Earthquake. United States Geological Survey. Accessed December 6, 2006
  35. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2008. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
  36. ^ San Francisco History The New San Francisco Magazine May 1906
  37. ^ The Great Earthquake and Firestorms of 1906 Philip L. Fradkin
  38. ^ Christoph Strupp, Dealing with Disaster: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, http://repositories.cdlib.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1066&context=ies.
  39. ^ Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906: Its Effects on Chinatown Chinese Historical Society of America, Accessed December 2, 2006
  40. ^ The Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Niderost, Eric, American History, April 2006, Accessed December 2, 2006
  41. ^ The New York Herald (European Edition) of April 21, 1906, p. 2.
  42. ^ R. K. Mackenzie, The San Francisco earthquake & conflagration. Typoscript, Bancroft Library, Berkeley, 1907.
  43. ^ a b c "Aetna At-A-Glance: Aetna History", Aetna company information
  44. ^ For a list of these companies see Tilmann Röder, Rechtsbildung im wirtschaftlichen Weltverkehr. Das Erdbeben von San Francisco und die internationale Standardisierung von Vertragsbedingungen (1871–1914), p.341–351.
  45. ^ The role of Lloyd's in the reconstruction Lloyd's of London, Accessed December 6, 2006
  46. ^ See T. Röder, The Roots of the "New Law Merchant": How the international standardization of contracts and clauses changed business law, http://www.rewi.hu-berlin.de/FHI/articles/0610roeder.htm.
  47. ^ Kerry A. Odell and Marc D. Weidenmier, Real Shock, Monetary Aftershock: The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and the Panic of 1907, The Journal of Economic History, 2005, vol. 64, issue 04, p. 1002–1027.
  48. ^ 1906 Centennial Alliance
  49. ^ National Geographic TV movie
  50. ^ projection of fire onto the Coit Tower
  51. ^ series of Internet documents
  52. ^ 100th anniversary
  53. ^ Nolte (2008-08-16). "1906 earthquake survivor Irma Mae Weule dies". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/08/15/BAQ712C258.DTL. Retrieved 2008-08-17. 
  54. ^ "Jeanette Trapani obituary". 2009-12-31. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sfgate/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=137997169. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  55. ^ San Francisco Chronicle, 2009-02-07, Calling any '06 San Francisco quake survivors
  56. ^ "SF remembers great quake on 103rd anniversary". The San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2009-07-20. http://www.webcitation.org/5iQJf3VHY. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  57. ^ Carl Nolte, SF Annniversary of 1906 Quake, San Francisco Chronicle (April 18, 2010)
  58. ^ 'Quake Survivor Dies Three Days Short of Anniversary', San Francisco Chronicle (April 16, 2010)
  59. ^ Officials unmoved by quake notoriety Daly City
  60. ^ Tsunami Record from the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, United States Geological Survey, 2008
  61. ^ California Geological Survey – Seismic Hazards Zonation Program – Seismic Hazards Mapping regulations
  62. ^ MMI ShakeMap of California for the 1906 San Francisco earthquake inferred from Lawson (1908) by Boatwright and Bundock (2005)
  63. ^ Knight, Heather (March 18, 2009). "It's true: "1906" film could be filmed in Canada". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2009-07-29. http://www.webcitation.org/5idsOIYGm. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  64. ^ "Librarian of Congress Adds 25 Films to National Film Registry". Library of Congress. December 20, 2005. http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2005/05-262.html. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 

References

Contemporary disaster accounts

External links

Edited by Dan Meyerson & Matt Peterson]


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