At 5:12 a.m. on Wednesday, 18 April 1906, an earthquake violently shook San Francisco and the surrounding area. The earthquake caused significant deaths, injuries, and property damage. The primary cause of death and destruction in San Francisco was due to the fires that burned out of control through a significant portion of the city for three consecutive days and nights.
Contemporary reports state that more than fifty fires were burning throughout the city. After the fires had burned out, the Federal Government gathered information as to the extent of the fire damage. The U.S. Geological Survey in 1907 published a map showing the area destroyed by the fire. You can view the 1907 Geological Survey fire map here.
More than one hundred thousand San Franciscans were left homeless; almost all of San Francisco's parklands and the Federal Government's open lands in the city were used as temporary housing areas. The Presidio military base and Golden Gate Park were among the many locations where people put up tents, tarpaulins, or small wooden shelters.
Click on an image to view the full-size photograph.
THEN This photo was taken from Mission Dolores Park, a San Francisco park used as a site for temporary housing after the fires were extinguished. The large building ahead, built-in 1896, is Mission High School. The road just to the right of this picture and out of view is Dolores Street, a street with a wide median strip separating opposing traffic, see below.
If you look at the Fire Map, you will observe that Dolores Street was a boundary point of the fires. Fire destroyed a significant number of buildings in the Mission District. By the time this picture was taken many temporary shelters had already been constructed. The view is looking north. (Courtesy of California Historical Society)
Then Dolores Street. This photograph was taken in 1944. Mission High School, built-in 1922-27, is visible, as is a portion of Mission Dolores Park. This photo was posted to show the width of Dolores Street. It is likely that the street acted as a fire barrier in April 1906. The view is looking north. (Courtesy of California Historical Society)
NOW The original Mission High School survived the 1906 earthquake and fires. Mission High School was destroyed by fire in 1922 because of a faulty heating system. The high school was rebuilt, and students were able to re-attend classes in 1927. This is a picture of the rebuilt school ninety years after it opened its doors to students.
|NOW This area of Mission Street is in the heart of the Mission District; it is busy and vibrant.|
|NOW This is a quiet location.|
THEN The bicycle ardor sweeping late-nineteenth-century America flourished in San Francisco. Despite the unpaved streets and dirt roads, many bicyclists, then known as wheelmen, rode their bicycles with great enthusiasm. The last two decades of the nineteenth century brought significant change for cycling enthusiasts.
The League of American Wheelmen, established in 1880, advocated rider safety and helped to secure paved roads. The L.A.W. became the country’s premier bicycling association, providing the infrastructure for members to participate in races, learn riding etiquette, and access touring maps and other publications.
This picture shows a group of bicyclists in 1890 before they embark on a bike ride sponsored by the League of American Wheelmen. The location is at the intersection of Twenty-first Street and Capp Street. This spot is one and one-half blocks from the fire's border. The view is looking west. (Courtesy of California Historical Society)
|NOW This is a quiet area in the Mission.|
|NOW The house has been well maintained, and the current owner is a dedicated gardener. The view is looking north.|
|NOW A quiet area of the Mission District. Some of the houses visible in the 1915 photo are still standing.|
THEN Built-in 1883, this is San Francisco's oldest standing firehouse; it is a brick firehouse that has a front surface made entirely of cast iron. It was the home of Engine Company No. 13 until 1958. The firehouse was sold by the City in 1959, and the building is now privately owned.
This picture is undated.
Since there is no sign on the building indicating that it is a firehouse, I believe the picture was taken after the building was sold by the City and County of San Francisco. I presume that the picture is circa the 1960s. (Courtesy of San Francisco Fire Department.)
|NOW The former home of San Francisco Fire Department Engine Company No. 13 is now known simply as 1458 Valencia Street.|
|NOW The building is still standing, but Progress Fruit Market’s large entryway on the Twenty-fourth Street side of the building has been permanently closed. The location is now occupied by a coffee shop with a conventional entryway.|
|The distance traveled was approximately 5.2 miles (8.4 kilometers). The cumulative elevation gain was about 223 feet (68 meters). Mile markers are displayed on the GPS generated track.|
"A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.” Dorothea Lange
"Photography has not changed since its origin except in its technical aspects, which for me are not important." Henri Carter-Bresson
"There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer." Ansel Adams
"The important thing is not the camera but the eye." Alfred Eisenstaedt
The book San Francisco’s Mission District was helpful in assembling this gallery of ‘Then and Now' photographs.
The first volume of the San Francisco Bay Area Photo Blog contains galleries of photographs that were posted on the Internet between 2002 and 2011. Click Here to view these photo galleries.
A Panasonic GX7 camera body mounted with an Olympus 17mm lens was used to take these photographs.
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