The Great Shake: San Francisco 1906 1906

John Farish, a mining engineer who was staying at the St. Francis, one of the city's finest hotels, remembered the very early morning of Wednesday, April 18, 1906:
 
St. Francis hotel image
Click here for a larger image of the St. Francis Hotel.
I was awakened by a loud rumbling noise

which might be compared to the mixed sounds of a strong wind rushing through a forest and the breaking of waves against a cliff. In less time than it takes to tell, a concussion, similar to that caused by the nearby explosion of a huge blast, shook the building to its foundations and it began a series of the most lively motions imaginable. Accompanied by a creaking, grinding, rasping sound, it was followed by tremendous crashes as the cornices of adjoining buildings and chimneys tottered to the ground."

 



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Photo credit: Steinbrugge Collection, Earthquake Engineering Research Center, University of California, Berkeley