Incredible Earthquake Photos

Via Uptown Almanac I found out that the SFMTA has scanned more of their photos documenting the destruction from the  1906 earthquake and fire, and posted them to flickr.

It looks like the Chronicle got the photos back in 2009 and published an article about them, but the folks at muni just recently added them to their flickr page.  From sfgate:

Hundreds of photographers took thousands of pictures of the disaster, but some of the best were taken by John Henry Mentz, official photographer for United Railroads, the city’s principal transit operator in those days.

Most of Mentz’s pictures were locked away in files for years, and many have never been published before. They show the destruction of the city – and particularly of its cable car and electric streetcar system – together with work to rebuild public transit.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/04/16/BAS91737GT.DTL#ixzz1JYhUkW35

U00822 by SFMTA Photo Archives
U00822, a photo by SFMTA Photo Archives on Flickr.

You should definitely take a look at the Uptown Almanac article, or the flickr page, or both! The photos are pretty incredible, with the above photo showing the calamity unfolding. The photo is taken from the vantage point of Alamo Square, and is a pretty dramatic illustration of how the fire consumed so much of eastern and northern San Francisco. And yes, those would be the painted ladies of Alamo Square in the foreground – the ladies that are still so frequently photographed, although fortunately never since has the backdrop been so calamitous.

This photo is pretty representative of the quality of the SFMTA photos, take a look at the entire set. If you are a San Francisco geek like me you’ll find them to be a wonderful testament to both the resilience of San Francisco and the apocalyptic horror  of the destruction that the 1906 quake caused, especially the incredible damage done by the fire.

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