The Great San Francisco Earthquake: Photographs From 110 Years Ago

By Alan Taylor, The Atlantic

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San Francisco in flames. (Library of Congress)

110 years ago next week, on April 18, 1906, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake centered near the city of San Francisco struck at 5:15 AM. The intense shaking toppled hundreds of buildings, but the resulting out-of-control fires were even more destructive. Broken water mains and limited firefighting capabilities allowed city-wide fires to burn for several days. Nearly 500 city blocks were leveled, with more than 25,000 buildings destroyed. At the time, the city was home to more than 400,000 residents—after the disaster, 250,000 were left homeless. The exact death toll is undetermined, but most estimates place the number of deaths caused by the earthquake and fire at more than 3,000.

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