The Great Earthquake and Firestorms of 1906

The Great Earthquake and Firestorms of 1906

How San Francisco Nearly Destroyed Itself

Book - 2005
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oligarchy that failed to serve the needs of ordinary people, the heroic efforts of obscure citizens, the long-lasting psychological effects of the disaster, and how all these events ushered in a period of unparalleled civic upheaval." "This look at how people and institutions function in great catastrophes demonstrates just how deeply earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, hurricanes, floods, wars, droughts, or acts of terrorism can shape us."--BOOK JACKET.
onto the city's ruptured streets and into its exclusive clubs, its teeming hospitals and refugee camps, and its Chinatown. He introduces the people - both famous and infamous - who experienced these events, such as Jack and Charmian London, Enrico Caruso, James Phelan, and Abraham Ruef. He traces the horrifying results of the mayor's illegal order to shoot to kill anyone suspected of a crime, and he uncovers the ugliness of racism that almost led to war with Japan. He reveals an elite
"The prolonged terror that would follow the 1906 earthquake began when a ship steaming off San Francisco's Golden Gate "seemed to jump clear out of the water" with the first temblor. This account of the earthquake, the devastating firestorms that followed, and the city's subsequent reconstruction shows how, after the shaking stopped, humans - not the forces of nature - nearly destroyed San Francisco in a remarkable display of power politics and simple ineptitude ." "Philip Fradkin takes us
Publisher: Berkeley : University of California Press, c2005
ISBN: 0520230604 (cloth : alk. paper)
Branch Call Number: 979.46103 FRA
Characteristics: xvii, 418 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm

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Oct 26, 2005

This is a fascinating account of the great 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, and the fires that followed it. The author argues that the fires were the more destructive of the two disasters, and that the city had set itself up for destruction by choosing to expand the city by building on sand, by building water conduits that fractured in the quake (leaving firefighters with nothing with which to fight the fires), and by using explosives(!) to create firebreaks. Fradkin has done an enormous amount of research about the earthquake and resulting fires, citing everything from newspaper articles, to letters, to telegrams, to official documents, to unpublished essays from university students who years before experienced the event. He tells the personal stories of people from all strata of society. The book also serves as a brief history of the city?s development before and since the quake. It includes reproductions of a number of startling black-and-white photographs that show just how devastated the city and surrounding areas were on April 18, 1906 and the days that followed.


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