Remembering a Real Earthquake

If, like us, you were rudely awoken this morning by a 4.0 East Bay rumbler, you may have found yourself wondering how you might have handled a major quake. Like, say, the great quake of 1906.

Though that quake happened at roughly the same time of day (in the 5am hour), it was nothing like this morning's non-event. The 1906 quake's magnitude has been estimated at roughly 7.9, and its effects were devastating. The quake and its resulting fire rank as one of the worst disasters in U.S. history, killing an estimated 3,000 people and causing billions of dollars' worth of damage throughout the city.

But how did it affect our neighborhood, specifically? We thought this might be a good opportunity to find out.

As it turns out, the Lower Haight appears to have fared relatively well compared to other neighborhoods. There were some damaged structures, but nowhere near the destruction that was seen in other parts of the city, or even a few blocks away in Hayes Valley:

Hayes and Laguna, 1906

One prominent structure in the neighborhood that did suffer some damage was the Protestant Orphan Asylum at Waller and Buchanan. The building's stone walls proved unable to withstand the quake.

Though the area suffered relatively minor physical damage, daily life was clearly disrupted. Cooking indoors was banned in the earthquake's immediate aftermath, so many residents were forced to take to the streets.

On Oak Street near the Panhandle, two sisters named Kate and Florence Voy constructed a pop-up food stand called "The Oyster Loaf". They split the structure with a neighbor, who set up her own kitchen called "The Chat Noir".

Meanwhile, as fires engulfed much of the city, many residents of the Alamo Square area flocked to the park to watch the scene (pictured at top).

To the south, Duboce Park and the area that's now occupied by Safeway were turned into makeshift refugee camps.

All in all, the Lower Haight seems to have been spared from the worst of the quake's impact, though life in the neighborhood was clearly transformed. Makes us wonder whether we'd be able to get through a similar event today. And definitely inspires us to stop procrastinating and finally put that earthquake kit together...

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Remembering a real earthquake