The Great Quake Of 1906 Essay Research

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The Great Quake Of 1906 Essay, Research Paper The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 has been recorded as being one of the most costly and deadly earthquakes ever. As it unexpectedly woke the city of San Francisco to swaying walls, burst water lines, and fires, we can only imagine the horrifying perplexity to which these people were exposed. As I capture the days after the quake I cannot imagine the impact that a quake like that would have had not only on my family, but my neighbors and city in which I live. At 5:14 a.m. on April 18, 1906, the San Andreas fault produced one of the largest tremors ever recorded on the San Francisco Bay area. Families were awakened to find their homes swaying at angles we can only imagine. Some families never even made it out of their homes. The

quake was registered at 8.3 and lasted for ninety seconds, causing people to reach the state of total chaos. As the earthquake crushed the water mains, fires began to originate in the heart of the city, allowing the fire department to only watch and wait. Many people were crushed as buildings began to collapse as a result of aftershocks. The police and fire department were in awe of the quake. Neither force had been properly trained for such incidents as this. The mayor at the time E.E. Schmitz, ordered all the jails to be evacuated as they had been rendered unsafe. The petty offenders were to be released into the havoc streets of San Francisco and the serious offenders were to be transferred to San Quentin State Prison. As the fires began to spread more rapidly, more buildings

began to collapse, killing even more. By 8 a.m., the city morgue was completely filled from floor to roof with bodies of victims. So the morgue was moved temporarily to the San Francisco police station’s target range. Soon after the transfer of the bodies, the fire threatened that building, and the bodies had to be once again moved. This time the bodies were buried in Portsmouth Square. “Of the 478 bodies finally recovered a great number were unrecognizable because of their mangled condition. It will never be known how many were killed, as the heat of the fire was so intense that the bodies were reduced to ashes in many instances, but judging from the reports of persons missing and other circumstances, the number has been estimated at between 1,000 and 1,500.”1 As the city

began to wake up to what was happening, yet another problem had started to occur. The prisoners that had been let out were looting houses, stores, buildings, and people. As word got around of the prisoners actions, the mayor once again tried to help. “As it has come to my attention that thieves are taking advantage of the present deplorable conditions and are plying their nefarious vocations among the ruins in our city, all peace officers are ordered to instantly kill any one caught looting or committing any other serious crimes.”2 Shortly after the statement was made, troops began to patrol the streets. When the first looter was caught trying to burglarize a jewelry store, he was turned over to a soldier who killed the man and left his body to be dissipated by the fire. Many

people, seeing that most of their lives had either been taken by the fire or by the earthquake, decided to aid those who were in need. One man was trapped under a building that had collapsed in such a way that he was pinned to the street. His cries for help were heard by passersby who attempted to rescue him. As the flames reached the rear of the building, the man begged one of the passersby, a large, middle-aged man to kill him so that he would not suffer any longer. After much skepticism the man pulled out a pistol and shot the victim in the head, killing him instantly. The larger man then asked a witness to escort him to the hall of justice where he then told his story to the mayor. The mayor gave the man a medal for relieving the victim of suffering. As the fires blazed on