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San Francisco’s 1906 Earthquake Essay

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The newly formed state of California, influenced mainly by the Gold Rush starting in 1848, sent the population drastically sprawling upwards. As more and more people established residency in the future area of San Francisco, area leaders officially recognized San Francisco as a city in 1856. The invention of the cable car in the late 1880s helped facilitate traversing the city’s steep hills, which ended up allowing people to live farther from work and use transportation into the heart of the city. San Francisco started out with a base population of approximately 30,000 people and increased to roughly 13 times that size by the time that the earthquake struck the city in 1906. The earthquake and fires greatly exposed the poorly constructed buildings of previous years. The destruction of San Francisco from the earthquake and fires of 1906 allowed for a newly reconstructed city with bigger and better buildings that attracted more business thereafter.

At 5:12 in the morning of Wednesday, April 18, 1906 an earthquake struck the City of San Francisco according to seismograph records. People remembered this event as especially violent and everyone within the vicinity woke up to white dust in the air from fallen debris. As remembered by a bystander of the event, “I was awakened by a very severe shock of earthquake. The shaking was so violent that it nearly threw me out of bed… As soon as it was over, I got up and went to the window, and saw the street filled with a white dust” (Stetson, 21). The strong shaking lasted from 45 to 60 seconds, which people felt from as far north as southern Oregon and as far south as Los Angeles. The earthquake caused the water supply to shut off. As a result of the lack of water supply, firefighters cou…

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…ter and Mount Vesuvius Horror. Chicago: Thompson and Thomas, 1906. Print.

Gilbert, Grove Karl. “1906 Earthquake: Refugee Camps.” National Park Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, 25 Feb. 2014. Web. 4 Mar. 2014.

Linthicum, Richard, and Trumbull White. Complete Story of the San Francisco Horror …: Comprising Also a Vivid Portrayal of the Recent Death-dealing Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. San Diego, CA.: Hubert D. Russell, 1906. Print.

Smith, Dennis. San Francisco Is Burning: The Untold Story of the 1906 Earthquake and Fires. New York: Viking, 2005. Print.

Stetson, James B. Narrative of My Experiences in the Earthquake and Fire at San Francisco. Palo Alto, CA: Lewis Osborne, 1969. Print.

U.S. Geological Survey. “The Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.” The Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. United States Geological Survey, 18 July 2012. Web. 1 Mar. 2014.

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