A Day to Remember

Wednesday, April 18 
5:13 a.m.
Most people were in bed when the earthquake started.  First came a sharp jolt.  Every church bell in town began to ring.  The quake lasted two minutes.   When it finally stopped, every single person in the city was wide awake.

Hundreds of people lay injured or trapped in the crowded, flimsy buildings South of Market, along the waterfront, and in Chinatown.

Power lines toppled and gas lines snapped. Fires broke out around the city. Broken pipes cut off the city’s water supply leaving firemen helpless against the flames.

Market Street was on fire. People climbed the hills and watched it burn. The Call Building, the tallest in the west, stood out like a candle on the skyline flames and smoke spewing from the top. The Emporium, the Palace Hotel, and what remained of City Hall were all in flames.

By 2:30 the fire had reached the telegraph office and cutting off communication with the outside world.

Thousands of people trudged down Market to the Ferry Building hoping to catch a boat to safety in Oakland. It was reported that the crowd was orderly, carefully polite and strangely silent.

U.S.Army soldiers patrolled the streets downtown with orders to shoot anyone caught looting.

At 3, the Mayor called together a group of businessmen and city leaders to form the Committee of Fifty to begin relief efforts

 6 p.m.
People crowded on the hillsides to watch the ring of fire that surrounded the eastern half of the city and slowly moved west.

As night fell, the glow of the fire lit up the city and could be seen for 50 miles. No one slept.

Photo credits:
Tilted Houses on Howard Street and Call Building on Fire  courtesy Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Watching the City Burn courtesy San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.

 Today:  Sunday, April 18, 2010
A crowd of about 500 people gathered  at Market and Kearny at 5:00 this morning to lay a wreath on Lotta's Fountain in remembrance of the disaster. One survivor attended, Mr. William Del Monte, 104 years old.  He said this would probably be the last time he would attend the annual ceremony. Read full story at sfgate.com.

No comments:

Post a Comment