1906 SF Earthquake: Found Pics

Jun 24, 2017

Though this is not the history of Pasadena or even San Gabriel Valley, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake is a defining moment in our state’s history. I stumbled upon some historic photographs—was gobsmacked—and I can’t resist sharing them.

My mother and I were visiting family up in Greenbrae, Marin County. My cousin has a pile of books, ranging from large to quiet small crammed onto a cluttered kitchen island. As all of my offers to help with dinner had been waved aside, I began to peruse the stack. The smallest books were bibles, and very old. My cousin said she hopes to interest the only grandchild who attends church into taking and enjoying them. The largest “book” turned out to be a photo album. Photographs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries fill the pages, and locations range from San Francisco and the East Coast to Europe. As I started asking questions, my cousin paused in dressing a pork crown roast to come take a look. The marvelous portraits and “snapshots” were not immediately familiar to her. Eventually, she decided this must be from her first husband’s side of the family.

As we were reaching the end, I put out my hand to stop my cousin from turning the page. What is this? We looked harder at a vertical shot of San Francisco City Hall. Horses pull wagons; two women walk in the foreground donning hats, long coats, and skirts. One of them is looking to her left toward the building. Hand written on the bottom right corner of the photograph: “City Hall after earthquake.”



Below are enlarged elements of the photograph above:




Another page had five panorama photographs, incredibly one taken while the city was burning. The other four illustrate the resulting damage.




Below are enlarged elements of the photograph above:







Below are enlarged elements of the photograph above:






Below are enlarged elements of the photograph above:








Below are enlarged elements of the photograph above:







Below are enlarged elements of the photograph above:




Thankfully, unsurprisingly, from the ashes San Francisco rose again…



2 Responses for “1906 SF Earthquake: Found Pics”

  1. Elissa B says:

    Fascinating. What a discovery! My SF-born great-grandmother lived through that earthquake. Thanks for posting!

  2. Kat Ward says:

    Thank you, Elissa, for commenting; we loved this discovery! And good on great-grandma for getting through that tortuous event.



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