San Francisco Photos From The 1906 Earthquake Versus Present Day

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Photo: Shawn Clover

The 1906 earthquake in San Francisco lasted only 42 seconds but it led to out-of-control fires that raged for days.Buildings collapsed and burnt, sinkholes opened up, railroad tracks and cable cars were damaged. Some 25,000 buildings perished in the fires, 20,000 people were displaced, and 90% of San Francisco was destroyed.

Many of the fires were caused by firefighters who used dynamite to demolish buildings to create firebreaks, but only made matters worse. The buildings loaded with dynamite caught fire themselves and exacerbated the inferno.

By 1906, photography was a common enough hobby and a number of survivors managed to capture images of the earthquake aftermath.

Photographer Shawn Clover looked through the photos taken at the time to find buildings or areas that can still be found in San Francisco today. He made mashups of the old images blending in the present scenery, creating a ghost-like effect of reflecting back over 100 years to one of the key events that changed the city forever.

Clover has kindly given us permission to feature his project ‘1906 + Today: The Earthquake Blend.’

Pedestrians cross Jones St towards a pile of rubble on Market Street. The Hibernia Bank building is burned out, but still standing strong.

Some business people and a young kid face the camera while fire consumes a building on the corner of Franklin St and Hayes St.

A women opens the door to her Mercedes on Sacramento Street while horses killed by falling rubble lie in the street.

A woman walks dangerously close to a pit of rubble on 5th St by the US Mint. The Mint has done a remarkable job surviving the quake.

Two girls stand before the partially destroyed Sharon Building in Golden Gate Park while students work on their art projects inside.

A cable car heads towards the California St incline while shocked residents walk aimlessly through street amidst the devastation.

Men pose in a tent city to house displaced residents while an armoured car turns left. Ferry Building repairs have begun.

Happy tourists pass by the Fairmont Hotel, which still stands, but is destroyed inside from the fires.

Passing cable cars offer a view of the destruction of California Street. Old St. Marys Cathedral has escaped destruction.

Residents take to the grass at Lafayette Park to get a view of the massive fires engulfing the city while a Muni bus stops below.

Pedestrians walk past Mechanics Monument at Bush Street and Battery Street while ghostly shells of buildings stand precariously in the background.

The Painted Ladies have escaped fire raging down the street. Mothers rest on the low wall in Alamo Square while their children play on the grass.

People cross Market Street in front of the destroyed Hearst Building

Cars travel down S. Van Ness, which has buckled after the quake

People walk through rubble on Geary St

A bicyclist rides towards the fallen Valencia St. Hotel and a huge sinkhole that has opened up in the street

People walk up California St amid charred scraps of lumber

Cars park in front of the brand new US Courthouse which faired well in the quake

Horse carriages and cars park in front of Lafayette Park while a destroyed city looms in the background

People mill around Lotta's Fountain, which served as a meeting place after the quake

Want more past-and-present mashups? Check out...

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