Justin: Hey, guys! More than one hundred years ago, one of the most deadly and destructive earthquakes in U.S. history happened right in this city where I am standing. Can you guess where I am? Is it:
A. Los Angeles
B. San Francisco
Alright, time is up! If you guessed San Francisco, you got it. And right behind me is the Ferry Building, one of a few buildings that survived the quake that experts now believe may have topped 7.0 on the richter scale.
Now, one element that sets this quake apart from other disasters of its day is that we have video evidence of what life was like before and after the quake. This is San Francisco just days before the big earthquake ravaged the city. This video was taken from the front of a trolley as it headed down Market Street toward the Ferry Building, one of the main streets in San Francisco. It is special because it gives us a glimpse of what life was like just days before the city was destroyed.
After the magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck several fires spread throughout the city, burning for three days and destroying nearly five hundred city blocks. Survivors slept in tents in city parks and stood in long lines for food and water for weeks. In the end, more than 3,000 were dead and an estimated two hundred thousand people were left homeless.
The 1906 earthquake is thought to be one of the most significant in U.S. history. Scientists were able to gather critical information that today is used as a principal model for understanding the earthquake cycle.
Alright, guys. So, I am sitting in a trolly car right now that was on the road one hundred years ago, so let’s check this thing out. All aboard!
Today, the trolley still goes down Market Street, taking people down the same path that it went down long ago.