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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Kong Chow Asylum: 1906

Kong Chow Asylum: 1906

"Pine Street below Kearney." Aftermath of the great San Francisco earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Merchants Exchange

Auntjess - the big building with the wisp of smoke is the Merchants Exchange, restored after the earthquake and fire is still standing at 465 California Street. It was, like the Mills Building, designed by Willis Polk while at Burnham & Root.

Mills Building

Auntjess - the big building on the right is still standing. It is the 10-story Mills Building, designed by Burnham & Root of Chicago and built in 1891-1892. It survived the earthquake and fire and was rebuilt and enlarged by the succeesor firm of D. H. Burnham and Company in 1907-1908, under the supervision of Willis Polk. The Mills Building was built for Darius Ogden Mills, a Forty-Niner who became a California banking tycoon.

Smoke Plume

Histry2 - I was wondering about the wisp of smoke as well, especially as the building is clearly burnt out.

Maybe there was still a lone stoker, working away in the boiler room of the building, unaware that anything had happened outside!

Still standing?

Are either of the tall buildings still there, or any of the others in this picture?

Quick Clean Up

If the current passion for used brick would have been a trend in 1906, they could have had this all picked up quickly by advertising "rock bottom prices on used brick -all you can carry".

Awesome for real

It annoys me the way people throw this word around over a candy-bar or something. Now this is what awesome looks like; this is what awesome is.

Do Not

use the fire escape on the left.


Although not dated precisely, this photo must have been taken within a few days of the fires' being extinguished since the first thing that San Franciscans did after the disaster was to clear the streets.

You gotta wonder about the wisp of smoke coming from the chimney atop the high-rise on the background. (The Appraiser's Building?) Did the building's boiler room survive intact so that the heating system still worked? Or was someone burning trash in the basement? Or maybe it's residual smoke from the still-smoldering ruins making its way up the flues?


Standing alone for nearly 3 years against the scourge of Nazism, I think they are allowed to wear their hats.

[Weebitski is talking about the San Francisco earthquake photo.]

My apologies.

Kong Chow

Kong Chow Beneficial Society (Chinese). Incorporated September 24, 1867. Location of asylum was on north side of Pine street, between Kearny and Dupont [Grant]. Object was to dispense charity to poor and worthy Chinese.

Battle Of Britain

Looks like London after the Blitz.


The world comes to an end, but they still have their hats!
The etiquette of the day was such that to not have a hat was considered unusual.

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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