San Francisco Earthquake of 1906

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Review Question: Where is the San Andreas Fault located?

Review Question: What type of fault is the San Andres fault?

On the morning of April 18, 1906, there was significant slippage between the North American and Pacific plates, causing the earth’s crust along the San Andreas fault to move (at its peak) about 20 feet. At 5:12 a.m., San Francisco was rocked by a 8.3 magnitude earthquake. (So massive, the quake’s effects were noted 9,100 miles away in Gottingen, Germany.) The city was nearly destroyed, and more than half of its residents (250,000 out of 400,000) became homeless.


San Francisco, the bustling seaport and (at the time) most-populous city on the West Coast, was in ruins. Adding to the natural disaster, fires erupted throughout town.

The devastated city burned for three more days and, it is now estimated, about 3,000 people died.


Photographs maintained by the U.S. National Archives show enormous damage after the earth shook the city:

Eyewitness Accounts

Although we can get a good sense of the damage done by the earthquake and its impact on its victims' lives, eyewitness accounts like the one below tell the story best.

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