The Ruins of San Francisco
Today in History for April 18 from the Library of Congress's American Memory project features the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906.
At 5:12 A.M. on April 18, 1906, an 8.3 magnitude earthquake struck San Francisco. With thousands of un-reinforced brick buildings and closely-spaced wooden Victorian dwellings, the city was poorly prepared for the quake. Collapsed buildings, broken chimneys, and a shortage of water due to broken mains led to several large fires that soon coalesced into a city-wide holocaust. The fire raged for three days, sweeping over nearly a quarter of the city, including the entire downtown area.
Over 3,000 people are estimated to have died as a result of the disaster. For those who survived, the first few weeks were hard; as aid poured in from around the country, thousands slept in tents in city parks, and citizens were asked to do their cooking in the street. A severe shortage of public transportation made a taxicab out of anything on wheels. Numerous businesses relocated temporarily to Oakland, and many refugees found lodgings outside the city. Most of the cities of central California were badly damaged. However, reconstruction proceeded at a furious pace, and by 1908, San Francisco was well on the way to recovery.
The associated media includes the panoramic view of the devastation from which I took the above photo and a TON of movies of San Francisco from before and after the earthquake such as a Balloon's Eye View of San Francisco.
As a resident of the Economically Devastated State of Michigan, I see great hope in this picture because I know that what those folks in San Francisco overcame was far, far more challenging than our current troubles.