Pre-Earthquake and Fire San Francisco
The first postcard is a view of San Francisco from the Fairmont on Nob Hill from 1905, looking towards Yerba Buena Island (note the Ferry Building in the background on the right). I am guessing that the wide street on the right is California Street. Nearly ready to open, the Fairmont was heavily damaged by the fire, and architect Julia Morgan oversaw the restoration, which was completed in 1907. Most of what is shown on the postcard was destroyed by the earthquake and fire.
|San Francisco Bay from the Fairmont, NYPL Digital Collections|
The next postcard shows San Francisco's City Hall. Amazingly, "April 19, 1905" is written on the card, a date that is just 364 days before the 1906 earthquake of April 18, 1906. City Hall was destroyed by the earthquake and fire (more on this below).
|San Francisco's City Hall, 1905, NYPL Digital Collections|
|Lotta Fountain and the Palace Hotel, pre-1096, NYPL Digital Collections|
Post-Earthquake and Fire San Francisco
The fire burned for several days and destroyed much of the area around Market Street, as the map below shows. Civic Center, Nob Hill, the Tenderloin, the Financial District, South of Market (what did they call it in 1906?) were all gutted by the out of control fires.
|Map of burned areas after 1906 earthquake, from A History of the Earthquake and Fire in San Francisco by Aitken and Hilton|
At the City Hall hundreds of tons of brickwork had crashed to earth ; in a moment the once imposing building had been stripped of all its pretense and its seeming strength. Half the building was in ruins. The great bronze dome, three hundred and thirty-five feet in height, rose airily out of the huge piles of brick that had been its walls and columns, its frame seeming strangely slight in the absence of the brick work which had surrounded it and lay in monumental ruin below. A group of massive columns, with their gigantic cornice, crashing into an apartment house across Larkin street, brought down its whole front wall. (p. 24, A History of the Earthquake and Fire in San Francisco by Aitken and Hilton)
After the cataclysm was over, City Hall was but a shell of its former glory:
|City Hall After the Earthquake, from A History of the Earthquake and Fire in San Francisco by Aitken and Hilton|
|City Hall, 2008 with the Slow Food Victory Gardens in the foreground. From the author's Flickr Collection.|
Postcard images from The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1898 - 1931. Links to the image pages at the NYPL:
- Bay from Fairmount Hotel, San Francisco, Calif.
- City Hall, San Francisco, Calif.
- Lotta Fountain and Palace Hotel, San Francisco, Calif.
Random link from the archive: Celebrating Election Day and Inauguration Day