Three Years after the 1906 Quake

April 29, 2017 | By | Reply More

Although the amount of insurance could never completely cover all property and personal losses in a disaster of such first magnitude as that of 1906 in San Francisco, it did provide instant means, when, as happened in some cases, it was promptly collected and put to use.

It was this money, in great part, which gave impetus to the rebuilding of the city from 1906 to 1909.

These years were filled with unprecedented activity; the number of 20,000 engaged in the building trades in prefire San Francisco was doubled by the end of 1906 and continued to grow constantly.

A survey made in April 1909, only ”three years after,” put the value of new construction alone in San Francisco as $150 million. Before the fire, the city had only 27 Class A buildings, i.e. those of steel frames and concrete or stone walls and floors.These had come through the earthquake splendidly and none needed to be demolished.

By 1909, all 27 had been restored and complete repairs made when this had been necessary.

By 1909, 114 Class B buildings had risen also, these being of reinforced concrete or brick with steel beams; also 1,500 Class C structures, i.e. those concrete, stone, or brick structures that had wooden frames and floors. Finally, to complete the picture of the reconstructed skyline of a substantially reborn city, a city which, indeed, ”had been tried and not found wanting,” approximately 19,000 frame buildings had been erected during these years of maximum building activity in San Francisco.

So, while some 28,000 structures had been destroyed and levelled by fire in 1906, 20,500 buildings, most of them much better constructed than those they replaced, now formed part of the new city. It should also be remembered that many of the buildings that had been destroyed were overdue for such a fate.

Many of those in Chinatown, for example, answered this description. The total value of the new structures exceeded that of those burned by almost $50 million and hence it was evident that the apparent and real tragedy of ”an earthquake followed by many fires” actually had its good elements.

Certainly an improved and first-class system of fire protection came from this experience; other distinguished buildings which now comprise the Civic Center may likewise be considered to be part of the legacy that emerged from tragedy and ruin. It would not be long before San Francisco could consider itself substantially, if not completely, recovered from its days of crisis.

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Category: Fog City - City of Fog, History

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