Recently, I’ve been giving it to my friends back east or in Europe who are complaining about the snow that while it’s a chilly 45°-55° here in San Francisco we still have sun [usually]. Their usual response is, “I’ll take the snow over earthquakes any day.”
I’ve heard lots of people say that in the past and in reality we haven’t had a quake that’s done any damage in San Francisco since 1989. 21 years and no big quakes. We’ve had a few little ones here and there, but those just give you a little startle.
Now the 1906 quake is one I’m glad I missed. It was rated at between 7.8-9.0 magnitude and left over half of San Francisco homeless. Worse thing is that it wasn’t the earthquake that did the most damage, but the fires that started afterwards that caused the most damage. The quake itself ruptured the San Andrea fault for 290 miles. By comparison, the 1989 Loma Prieta ruptured only 25 miles. Damage by todays standards from the 1906 quake would have put the total loss at over $8 Billion dollars.
So what exactly did the city do to help out the homeless people? They built refugee camps with housing like the one in the picture. This house is an actual 1906 earthquake shack that has been restored. Quite unlike most other museums [this one is at the Randall Museum] you can walk inside of it.
What we have here was a very quickly put together 10’x10′ one room house with no running water or toilet. The walls were built of 1/2″ x 4″ wood planks that are probably much better quality than we have today, but still, there’s no insulation, no caulking to block out drafts. It must have been pretty miserable to live in, but a lot better than living outside in the fog. Back then you could purchase one for $50 on a rent to lease option. Rental was between $2-$15. This one had a sign that said $2/month rent so I can only assume that the $15/month were a bit bigger. Some of these are still being found today. I was at recovery challenge out by the beach that Woody LaBounty of the Western Neighborhoods Project put together. Apparently, someone had one in their backyard and if Woody and his people could come and get it, they could restore it.
[mappress mapid=”10″]The only other one I’ve seen is at the San Francisco Zoo which you can also walk into, but that one is unfurnished. You can tell when you first walk in that life was simpler back then what with your house consisting of a bed, a table, a pot-bellied stove and a sewing machine. At least that’s what this one was furnished with. Most of these houses were set up in Golden Gate Park at the time as it was probably the most stable land in San Francisco to hold them. If you want to feel a little bit happier about where you live come check this out. Oh and by the way, the Randall Museum is free.