An earthquake measuring a cataclysmic 7.8 on the Richter scale hit San Francisco in the early hours of Wednesday, April 18, 1906. Broken gas mains and destroyed chimneys immediately started fires. By mid-day on April 19, 250,000 citizens were homeless. After the fires finally subsided two days later, the city was unrecognizable.
San Francisco native and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst wrote: "The hills rolled to the seas as bare as when the pioneers landed in '49. But now they are a blackened waste. North to the bay, west to the Mission -- nothing but ruins. The wholesale district is destroyed, the manufacturing district, the financial district, and the waterfront section -- all destroyed."
See photographs of San Franciscans in the earthquake's aftermath.
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