The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

April 18 marks the 112th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, one of the most devastating disasters in American history. Although the Richter scale would not be developed until the 1930s, the 1906 earthquake likely approached an 8.0 on the scale. It nearly wiped San Francisco, a city of 400,000 people, off the map, and seismograms felt the quake’s shaking as far away as Germany. The earthquake not only collapsed buildings but also set off massive fires, the combined effects of which killed 3,000 people, leveled almost 500 city blocks, and rendered a quarter million people homeless. The disaster also gave rise to litigation that strikingly paralleled the legal battles over Hurricane Katrina, which inundated Louisiana and Mississippi in August 2005. The Miles Brothers Films One of the distinctive features of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake is how well-documented it was, giving rise to pictures that continue to capture our imagination. For example, on…

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