Friday, April 18, 2014
APRIL 18 = The Great San Francisco Earthquake
"The whole street was undulating. It was as if the waves of the ocean were coming toward me, and billowing as they came."
That was how San Francisco Police Sergeant Jesse Cook described the opening moments of the great San Francisco earthquake which took place on today's date, April 18, in 1906. The earthquake, which came from the infamous 600 mile-long San Andreas Fault registered 8.3 on the Richter scale, and lasted about seventy-five seconds in two separate jolts. Thousands of cheaply made buildings on landfill areas of the city were wrecked, and as huge fissures opened and closed, most of the city's gas and water mains ruptured. The fires which broke out after the quake burned for three days.
Chief Sullivan Might Have Saved the Day...
The death and destruction are all the more horrendous when considered in light of the fact that the bulk of it might have been avoided. Chief Dennis T. Sullivan (below) of the San Francisco Fire Department had worked hard for years on an elaborate plan to fight the huge blaze which he feared would one day strike the city. His plan
The Great Caruso Is Caught in the Quake
Rich and poor, famous and obscure alike were thrown into chaos. The great operatic tenor, Enrico Caruso (below) who the night before
"It (was) only a few blocks from the Palace...to the ferry, but it took me from 6:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. to cover the space.... Men and women fought about the entrance to the ferry like a band of infuriated animals. I made my escape -- I do not know how, for I was as desperate as any of them. As the boat pulled over the bay, the smoke and flame rose sky high, and the roar of falling buildings and cries of the people rent the air."
Italian Wine, Fixed Bayonets, and General Funston.
The 585 man fire department, minus the leadership of it's dead chief, found it's efforts frustrated because water mains were smashed throughout the city. The Italian community around Telegraph Hill turned to using over 1,000 gallons of wine from their cellars to hold back the flames. Upon hearing reports of widespread looting, Brigadier General Fredrick Funston (below) took the liberty of
And Enrico Caruso never returned to San Francisco again.
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Darkest Hours : A Narrative Encyclopedia of Worldwide Disasters from Ancient Times by Jay Robert Nash, Nelson-Hall Publ.,
Chicago, 1976. pp. 490 - 507.
Disaster!: The Great San Francisco Earthquake & Fire of 1906by Dan Kurzman, Harper Collins Publ., New York, 2001