14 vintage photos of the massive earthquake that would forever change the face of San Francisco

The biggest earthquake to ever hit San Francisco took place 110 years ago, on April 18, 1906.

With a 7.8 magnitude, it’s still one of the most devastating earthquakes to hit California to this day. The earthquake was not the only disaster that struck – it also caused many fires that destroyed even more of the city.

It is still considered one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States.

Below, see images of the damages caused by the massive earthquake.


The earthquake killed over 3,000 people and destroyed more than 28,000 buildings. Some streets were split right down the middle.

Source: history.com


It was the first natural disaster to be documented through photographs.

Source: The Culture Trip


The quake shook a total of 296 miles along the San Andreas fault.

Source: history.com


It could be felt from southern Oregon to Los Angeles and even into central Nevada.


Although the quake only lasted one minute, it caused $20 million worth of damage in the city and $4 million outside of the city.

Source: USGS


The earthquake, combined with the fires that followed, resulted in $524 million worth of property loss.

Source: USGS


Within half an hour of the earthquake, 50 fires had started.

Source: about education


The fires burned consistently for more than three days.

Source: archives


The earthquake caused water mains to break, which prevented firefighters from stopping the fires.


It took nine years to completely rebuild the city, though many businesses reopened a few weeks after the disaster.

Source: The Culture Trip


The destruction caused many people to flock to surrounding areas, such as Oakland and Berkeley. This natural disaster gave San Francisco a chance to completely rebuild itself with the more logical and classic style that is seen around the city today.


Many people’s houses were destroyed, and it left about 250,000 people homeless out of a population of 400,000.

Source: Archives.gov


The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 is considered one of the most devastating natural disasters in American history — but, if it weren’t for this horrible disaster, the city might have had a completely different look than what is seen today.

Source: Earthscope


Within 10 years, San Francisco was once again the most important city on the West Coast.

Source: History.com