Built originally, like Rome, on seven hills, San Francisco has now spread to cover nearly 50, making it the world’s second hilliest city after La Paz, Bolivia. This view is from Mount Tamalpais, Marin County, where the Golden Gate Recreation Area is the 1970s birthplace of mountain biking.
San Francisco – Been There

The good that came of San Francisco‘s Great Earthquake

Photo by David Sanger

San Francisco – Been There The good that came of San Francisco‘s Great Earthquake

“All around me buildings were rocking and flames shooting. As I ran people on all sides were crying, praying and calling for help. I thought the end of the world had come,” said eyewitness G.A. Raymond after the great earthquake and fire of 1906.

Mark Harris
Mark Harris Travel Writer

The Ferry Building in North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf and the Marina were hit hardest by the earthquake. But that was only the start. The fire, fed by gas pipes ruptured in the earthquake and with firefighters unable to find water in the broken mains, raged for almost four days, destroying more than three-quarters of the city. Some 220,000 were injured and 300,000 left homeless out of a population of 410,000. Neighborhoods like the Mission took more damage from the fires that the earthquake itself.

Yet the city’s energy was undimmed. Without waiting for the planners to implement their dreams of grand boulevards, the citizens got to work on a compacted timescale that gives the architecture its homogeneous character. By 1909, 20,000 new buildings had been erected, albeit with the help of lax building regulations that still plague San Francisco today. Among them the “New” Palace Hotel which replaced the razed original 1875 Palace Hotel, a landmark building of downtown San Francisco.

By 1915, when the International Exposition opened, standing on landfill made from earthquake rubble, the city was reborn. Besides art, the exposition also introduced the public to radio and airplanes, an automobile factory, and the first transcontinental telephone call. Seeds were being sown. Only 20 years later, what was then the world’s longest bridge opened to span the Golden Gate and the rest, as they say, is still making history.

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Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill was built as a memorial to firefighters, using a 1929 bequest by socialite Lillie Hitchcock Coit intended to ”beautify the city”. Coit became an honorary firefighter at the age of 15 after she dropped her schoolbooks to help push Knickerbocker Engine Co. No. 5 up the hill as it responded to a fire. Photo by Brandon Doran / Creative Commons

Brandon Doran

Brandon Doran

Nikon D90

Agency
Creative Commons
Aperture
ƒ/8
Exposure
1/320
ISO
200
Focal
28 mm

Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill was built as a memorial to firefighters, using a 1929 bequest by socialite Lillie Hitchcock Coit intended to ”beautify the city”. Coit became an honorary firefighter at the age of 15 after she dropped her schoolbooks to help push Knickerbocker Engine Co. No. 5 up the hill as it responded to a fire.

Other stories about San Francisco

When Steve Jobs launched the iPhone at San Francisco’s 2007 Macworld convention he called it, with typical understatement "a revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone.” It took $150 million to develop and Apple paid $1 million for the iphone.com domain name, but sold a million devices on its first weekend.

The Pioneering spirit that never died

What can you say about San Francisco, a city that shaped and continues to shape the world as we know it? The history of San Francisco is the promise of gold that brought settlers West, until they could go no further; the pioneering spirit has never died. The Flower Power generation, which originated here in the 1960s, shaped modern beliefs; a new generation is defining our virtual world through companies like as Apple and Facebook. In the history of San Francisco is our present: in its past, our future.