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Images: Rare Footage of the Devastation of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

Devastation Revealed

san francisco earthquake

(Image credit: Courtesy of Silver Shadows Gallery Ltd.)

At 5:12 a.m. on April 18, 1906, one of the largest earthquakes in California history shook the city of San Francisco awake.Estimated to measure somewhere between magnitude 7.7 and 8.3, the quake destroyed thousands of homes, ignited some 30 fires and killed upwards of 700 people. This striking new footage recovered from a California flea market reveals the devastation — and perseverance — that arose in the aftermath. [Read the full story on the long-lost earthquake footage.]

Blasted Landscape

san francisco earthquake

(Image credit: Courtesy of Silver Shadows Gallery Ltd.)

More than 28,000 buildings were destroyed by the 1906 quake and the resulting fires. Select buildings were dynamited to quell the spread of the flames. Others were blown up to make room for eventual rebuilding.

A City Displaced

san francisco earthquake

(Image credit: Courtesy of Silver Shadows Gallery Ltd.)

People fill the hazy streets of San Francisco following the 1906 earthquake. More than half of the city's 400,000 residents were rendered homeless by the disaster.

Road of Ruin

san francisco earthquake

(Image credit: Courtesy of Silver Shadows Gallery Ltd.)

Cars and carriages clog the streets after the 1906 earthquake. With no homes to go back to, many residents left San Francisco for good.

End of The Line

san francisco earthquake

(Image credit: Courtesy of Silver Shadows Gallery Ltd.)

Bystanders watch as the filmmakers complete their journey down Market Street, culminating at the partially damaged Ferry Building.

Moving Forward

san francisco earthquake

(Image credit: Courtesy of Silver Shadows Gallery Ltd.)

Public transportation, including the city's iconic cable cars, was in short supply after the quake. Reconstruction proceeded quickly, and by 1908 the city was well on the road to recovery.