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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Apocalypse Then: 1906

Apocalypse Then: 1906

"Looking up Market St. from near Ferry." Another look at San Francisco in the aftermath of the earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906. View full size.

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Wagon wheel gauge

Not seen often but notice the wagons traveling along the rails. A great example of wagons and most carts along with the early automobiles showing they had the same wheel width as standard gauge railroads, 4'-8-1/2". Here many wagons are traveling along the rails as it was a smoother ride on cobble stone streets, and not seen so much on smooth streets. They are not directly on the rails but just off to one side. Early automobiles had the same wheel spacing as the wagons they replaced so that they could travel in the same ruts as created by wagon travel, certainly not for this example on city streets, but for the many ruts created across the country, many of which still exist. Apparently this wheel gauge originated with the Roman chariots and most forms of vehicles followed the rut spacing. Early railroads were developed using wooden rails spaced to fit horse drawn carts, naturally following previous wagon wheel spacing, 4'-8-1/2". Rumor has it that this spacing works out from the convenience of constructing Roman chariots to fit behind two horses.


FWIW, I'd guess limestone blocks faced with some sort of plaster or stucco-like material, which flaked off in the heat. You can see where it remains on the lower right and left.

Scalded Stone

The brick portions of the building appear to have survived with much less damage than the stone. I'm no expert in this but given the way the stone has blistered and peeled I would think it more likely to be some sort of sedimentary rock such as sandstone. Is there any Shorpy geologist, mason, or firefighter who can weigh in and explain the damage to the stone?

Hot time tonight

MSG: You were pretty close with your guesstimate of temperatures that would cause granite to crack and scale off.

Most histories of the 1906 conflagration estimate fire temperatures reached 2,500-2,700 degrees F.

Extreme heat

From the appearance of the stone walls on the first floor the heat from the fire must have been truly extreme. The wooden floors would have pancaked one on top of the other to continue feeding the fire on the first floor. Temperatures must have been in excess of 2000 degrees.

The Blitz

Except for the ancient attire and the parade of horse carts, this could be a photo of London, the morning after a WW2 air raid.

Just had a small one last night.

Just sitting at the computer, when around 11:30 last night, a 3.8 jolt hit the house. Always nice to have a little reminder of just where you stand with mother nature. Just north of S.F. No two ever feel the same.

Tragedy and loss

The dust/smoke in this photo reminds me of some 9/11 photos

April 18, 2011

My family and I visited San Francisco on the 105th anniversary of the famous quake. Just to mark the occasion, a 3.8 magnitude earthquake occurred at 2:57 p.m. that day. We were at Coit Tower and quite oblivious to any shaking. We found out about it later when we were watching the late news.

Still in their Sunday best

Talk about a different time and stiff upper lip.
Ladies still dressed to the nines and men in suits and bollers.

Grandma? Is that you?

Can't get enough of the '06 quake shots. My grandparents and 6 week old uncle survived the great temblor. My G-grandmother's parakeet did not however. It was blasted away with her house when General Funston's soldiers dynamited vast swaths of the city (causing more destruction and fires).

The picture is of my grandfather's crony, my grandmother, grandfather, great aunt, her son, and a rather dapper chap whose name is lost to history. They're sitting outside of my grandfather's cigar store with the cookstove removed from the building to prevent more fires.

I love hearing all the hullabaloo from the East Coasters going on about the recent quake. I'll take the occasional rumble over a "hurricane season" anytime!


That wall that's left on the right side looks like a strong wind could finish the job. Those that survived and were able to rebuild were very lucky.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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