The Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake hit 110 years ago today, on April 18, 1906. It was a magnitude 7.8 with its epicenter just offshore of San Francisco. It’s one of the most significant earthquakes of all time in the US and also one of the deadliest in the history of the United States.
The quake was devastating but the most damage was caused by the fires that followed. Because water mains were destroyed from the initial quake, firefighters had no way of fighting the blaze. Immense fires broke out and lasted several days as it wiped out over 80% of the city and killed more than 3,000 people. Only 400,000 residents were living in the city at the time and an astounding 250,000 were left homeless. Makeshift tents and refugee camps were still visible two years after the quake.
There was a strong foreshock which hit before the main earthquake and lasted 20 to 25 seconds. The main shock lasted an unnerving 42 seconds and was felt from southern Oregon to south of Los Angeles and as far central as Nevada.
Since San Francisco boomed during the Gold Rush of 1849, the city was not designed very well as things were just build haphazardly. The destruction of the city allowed city planners to create a much improved city that is more logical. At the time, San Francisco was the largest city on the west coast but since the city was destroyed, trade and industry shifted further south to Los Angeles which became the largest urban area in the west during the 20th century.
By remembering this tragic and devastating event, lets all take some time to ensure we are prepared. It doesn’t take long and it can possibly save your life.