Earthquake/Fire: Eyewitnesses

These postcards written by eyewitnesses soon after the 4/18/1906 earthquake/fire retain their immediacy today. Most are written on poorly printed b+w postcards produced locally right after the quake. This list is in chronological order, with message transcriptions.



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Charlton, a pre-quake image of the Palace Hotel, written five days after the earthquake/fire on 4/23/1906: "This was destroyed by the earthquake + fire. I had come down on a visit so saw all, it was terrible the suffering is awful. Thank you for thinking of me in the terrible time..."
Unknown publisher, postmarked San Mateo 5/07/1906 (three weeks after the earthquake/fire): "[arrow indicating City Hall dome] This is the City Hall all what remains after the shock. Fire ate it up but shock knocked it to pieces. This quake has taught S.F. how to build her buildings. Jen".
Unknown publisher, postmarked 5/07/1906: "Destruction greater than newspapers describe Julius W. A. 5/7/06".
Unknown publisher, postmarked Evansville Ind. 5/10/1906: "In memory of Apr. 18, 1906 when I lost everything. J.M.G."



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Rieder, postmarked SF 5/12/1906: "S.F. May 11, 1906 From a fire + earthquake sufferer. J.M.G." (same sender/addressee as previous).
Rieder, postmarked SF 5/13/1906: "May 13 - 1906 - Santa Rosa This is all their was left of a city that was so grand. They are busy now cleaning and building. Their are homes away out and people are living in camps."
Oakland Souvenir, postmarked SF 5/21/1906: "May 20 1906 I lived about 200 ft. from this corner. This burned out immediately after the fire. O.A.J. [???] Been well and hope this will find all well there. Bro. Otis" (same sender as 6/19/1906 Rieder card below).
Rieder-Cardinell, postmarked SF 5/26/1906: "This is only one street that was destroyed of the 4 square miles. We saw the whole burn from the top of the hill where we live 122 Summit Avenue. Our chimney fell into the roof, no one hurt."



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Unknown publisher, ca. 5/dd/1906 (not addressed/mailed): "[Front:] Look hard and you will find us in line waiting for a loaf of bread. Last week we stood for 2 blocks before getting one. Will be with you soon. [Back:] The people in the front of the picture are part of a line three blocks long of people waiting for a can of corn beef, a few beans & a loaf of bread given by the Government."
Rieder-Cardinell, postmarked SF 6/19/1906: "816 Turk St. S.F. Cal June 19-06 Your very welcome missive Recd. + it found me in the best of health. Your Bro. Otis" (same sender as 5/21/1906 Oakland card above).
Weidner 223, postmarked SF 11/05/1906: "Afuly [?; presumably 'Awful'] ruins here now". By six months after the earthquake, better quality color postcards showing earthquake/fire scenes were widely avaiable.



Steve's SF postcard pages: