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San Francisco Earthquake 1906

Constructions:  David Neufer
Motion Picture Source:  Library of Congress

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From Natoma Street 
(Between 4th & 3rd)     Details


Presidio Refugee Camp     Details







Newspaper Row
(From the SE corner of 3rd & Market Sts.)   Details


Part One Part Two Part Three  


The films from which the above time sweeps are derived as well as the information that follows are from the Library of Congress online site.  Highlighting is mine.   Please direct questions, comments, and corrections to me.


Library of Congress - American Memory

Scenes in San Francisco, [no. 2] /
American Mutoscope and Biograph Company.

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Scenes of San Francisco, [no. 2]

United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1906.

This film is a compilation of panoramas filmed in the ruins of downtown San Francisco and outlying refugee camps following the 1906 earthquake and fire. The film dates from Wednesday, May 9, 1906.

The following is a scene-by-scene description of the film: [Frame: 0102 (part 1)] The film begins with a long, dramatic pan of downtown ruins viewed from Natoma Street between 4th and 3rd streets. The pan is from left to right (west to northeast). Buildings of interest are as follows: The old San Francisco Mint, with classic facade and two smokestacks is in the middle background. [0285 (part 1)] The Flood Building at Market and Powell streets is seen. [0632 (part 1)] The unfinished frame of the Butler Building (now I. Magnin's department store) rises behind the ruined apse of St. Patrick's Church on Mission Street. Note that the church facade had been demolished. [0796 (part 1)] In the far background is the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill. Closer at left is the tower frame of the Whittell Building, unfinished at the time of the earthquake. [1016 (part 1)] The Call Building at left is obscured by the Aronson Building. [1250 (part 1)] The white Monadnock Building is at left, the dark multi-bayed Palace Hotel is at right. Both stand west of 3rd Street, facing Market Street. [1560 (part 1)] Note the traffic along distant 3rd Street, south of Market Street. The arched facade [1962 (part 1)] may be St. Patrick's School on Natoma Street. Next is a pan showing the ruins of San Francisco's City Hall [2169 (part )], most of the visible damage being caused by the earthquake, not the subsequent fire. The building was constructed over a twenty-nine year period (1871-1899) on the "installment plan," the result of a civic aversion to the possibility of bonded indebtedness. City Hall was located between Larkin and McAllister streets and set a block back from Market Street. The present San Francisco Public Library, old Federal Building, and new Library site (now under construction) occupy the site today. The camera view is across Market Street from the west side of 8th Street. The pan is from northwest to northeast. In sequence are [2298 (part 1)] the ruined southwest wing of City Hall, [2575 (part 1)] Marshall Square with the 1894 Pioneer Monument in front of the central tower and cupola of City Hall, [2908 (part 1)] the east wing, [3285 (part 1)] and the domed Hall of Records (demolished 1916). Nob Hill is visible in the background, at right. Note the seated man reading a newspaper at the corner. [3470 (part 1)] The camera pans to the left across one of the refugee camps located in public parks and undeveloped areas in the unburnt parts of the city. The umbrella and wall tents were army issue; the wooden shacks [3690 (part 1)] were built on site. The exact identity of this camp is unclear. It may be camp #13 at Clinton Mound, at Market and Duboce streets. A less-likely second choice would be a portion of Mission (now Delores) Park camp at Delores and 18th streets. Both were rather squalid, jumbled camps. [3790 (part 1)] Note the sign at the center of the pan reading "Barber Shop." [3929 (part 1)] The crowd at left may be passing through the main entrance [?] to Market Street. [Frame: 0103 (part 2)] This is the start of a panorama of a well-organized camp, probably in the Presidio, the U.S. Army base. The location may be the Presidio Golf Links, on the south side of the base. [0350 (part 2)] These Chinese refugees are receiving their ration of rice [?], and the distributor writes down each portion given out. Refugees from Chinatown were gathered at nearby Fort Mason, then moved to the Presidio Golf Links. Complaints from neighbors of unpleasant cooking odors led to a third move to another Presidio location. [1076 (part 2)] This left-to-right pan (north to southeast) was shot from the southwest corner of 3rd and Market streets. The intersection was formerly known as Newspaper Row or Newspaper Corner because of the many newspaper offices located here. [1150 (part 2)] Streetcars pass on Market Street. [1310 (part 2)] People watch safecrackers at work (note the sign advertising their services). [1377 (part 2)] A street clock stands before the entrance of the Mutual Savings Bank. [2100 (part 2)] A man pauses to look at the burnt bank entrance. [2411 (part 2)] The camera looks part way up Kearny Street. The view is northeast toward Lotta's Fountain (1875) and the Chronicle Building. [2526 (part 2)] Thick dust obscures Market Street and the distant Ferry Building. [2902 (part 2)] The ruins of the opulent Palace Hotel (left) and its modern neighbor, the Monadnock Building (right) are visible. [3186 (part 2)] Looking across 3rd Street, the camera shows the dynamited remains of the Hearst Building and the exposed interior of the Monadnock Building. [4126 (part 2)] The camera looks down 3rd Street as a Keuffel Poster Company cart (drafting and surveying supplies) passes.

Copyright: American Mutoscope & Biograph Company; 19May1906; H77926.

Duration: 2:20 (part 1) and 2:25 (part 2) at 15 fps.

Camera, Otis M. Gove.

Photographed: May 9, 1906. Location: San Francisco, California.

Received: 5/19/1906; paper pos; copyright deposit; Paper Print Collection.


Earthquakes--California--San Francisco.
Fires--California--San Francisco.
Buildings--Earthquake effects--California--San Francisco.
Disaster relief--California--San Francisco.
Emergency housing--California--San Francisco.
Emergency food supply--California--San Francisco.
Refugees--California--San Francisco.
San Francisco (Calif.)--History.
Street-railroads--California--San Francisco.

Gove, Otis M., camera.
American Mutoscope and Biograph Company.
Paper Print Collection (Library of Congress)

1 roll (288 ft) : si., b&w ; 35 mm. paper pos.

LC 2181 (paper pos)


Library of Congress Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

lcmp003 19896s1 19896s2 urn:hdl:loc.mbrsmi/lcmp003.19896