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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.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Apocalypse Then: 1906

Apocalypse Then: 1906

"Earthquake panorama." San Francisco after the devastating earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906. Landmarks include the domed, burned-out shell of the Call newspaper tower at left, and City Hall at right. Still standing and open for business: Cold Day Lunch and Oyster House, along with "New Franks" and "Original Coppa." 8.5 x 6.5 inch glass negative originally from the Wyland Stanley collection of San Francisciana, purchased and scanned by Shorpy. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

That's Pine Street in the foreground

The 3 sturdy buildings at center are gone now, but were in the 400 block of Pine. The alley running beside Café Confidence is now called Belden Place. Right of that is Kearney Street. The 5-story building on Kearney is still standing.

When was this photo taken?

Is there an exact date on the photo? It appears that some buildings damaged beyond repair have been demolished, a lot of the rubble has been hauled away, and some rebuilding has begun.

[There is no date. - Dave]

Stairway to nowhere

Looks like that delivery boy is having a problem at the Café Confidence!

Construction standards

I note that, among the devastation, the skyscrapers under construction (those with cranes on top) seem to have done pretty well. As this site notes, "the handful of reinforced concrete structures and steel framed buildings had done the best, surviving [the earthquake] with relatively little structural damage."

Today, Look for the Cisterns

If you drive down the wider streets of San Francisco today, you'll occasionally come across a circle of red bricks spanning the street, with a manhole cover in the middle labelled "Cistern SFFD." This is part of the auxiliary water system installed after the Great Fire. My father, who had contacts in the City government, told me they were marked that way so SF Fire Department could locate them in a rubble-strewn street and dynamite the top to get access if necessary.

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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