San Jose's 18-story, quake-ready City Hall gave city employees a good ride during Tuesday earthquake

San Jose's 18-story, quake-ready City Hall gave city employees a good ride during Tuesday earthquakePhoto: Daderot/Wikimedia
Jay Barmann
Published on October 25, 2022

Tuesday morning saw a major, 5.1M earthquake hit San Jose — with an epicenter nine miles east of the Seven Trees neighborhood in South San Jose. It was the largest earthquake on the Calaveras Fault since 2007, and the largest in the Bay Area since the 2014 Napa quake that registered a 6.0M.

The quake struck at 11:42 a.m. local time, and it was followed by a 2.9M aftershock five minutes later.

San Jose City Hall, the 2005-completed complex with its 18-story tower designed by architect Richard Meier (of Getty Center fame) was built to withstand earthquakes, however its swinging mechanism is sure to "give anyone inside a harrowing ride" in the event of a significant earthquake, as the Chronicle writes today

Colin Heyne, a spokesperson for San Jose’s Department of Transportation, tells the Chronicle that his house "felt like a boat" when the quake hit, and he was immediately flooded with texts from coworkers who rode out the temblor on the upper floors of City Hall.

Even in much smaller earthquakes the building has been known to freak people out as it sways, as evidenced by the tweet below from July 2021.


As it turns out, this quake, despite its size, caused little to now damage even near the epicenter — and it was felt in San Francisco as well as much of the inner Bay Area.

A USGS seismologist, Annemarie Baltay, said in a video statement that "Ground shaking appears to have been slightly less than our models expected for this magnitude earthquake."

Let today's earthquake be a reminder that everyone in the region should have an at-home earthquake kit ready as well as a go-bag if there's any chance your home could become uninhabitable in a "big one," which is going to come eventually.