The devastation caused by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake is difficult to fathom. Two exhibits marking the centennial of the 7.8 magnitude quake that displaced 200,000 people in San Francisco alone offer a window into understanding the daunting and unexpected challenges the Bay Area experienced, and are lessons for the future.
Seeing photographs from April 18, 1906 and the days to follow – with the unimaginable destruction caused by proceeding fires – put the degree of devastation into perspective. They also illustrate the rebuilding that occurred following the day that brought San Francisco to its knees.
"Who would have imagined that just a few days after that people would literally dust off and step up and seek to resolve to rebuild their home in the miraculous way we see here today?" San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said recently in a tribute to the city and those caught in the disaster.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is currently exhibiting photographs from that catastrophe, as is the Oakland Museum of California. Both exhibits feature photography from the Bay Area that shows the human experience, with makeshift camps and devastated expressions – and the grand scale of disrepair – shown in wall-sized panoramic photographs.
1906 Earthquake: A Disaster in Picture
151 Third St. (Between Mission and Howard), San Francisco
$7 for students, $12.50 general admission
_› Oakland Museum of California
Aftershock! Voices from the 1906 Earthquake and Fire
1000 Oak St., Oakland
$7 for students, $8 general admission