1906 San Francisco Earthquake


This extraordinary silent footage housed at the Blackhawk Films Collection housed at the Academy Film Archive provides a look at the spectacular 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. An almost year-long celebration staged in San Francisco, California, the Expo celebrated the completion of the decade-long construction of the Panama Canal.

The City by the Bay embraced the opportunity to rebuild its community following a devastating and destructive earthquake that fell on its citizens’ shoulders in 1906. The Expo took three years to construct and opened to great fanfare on February 20, 1915. The fair housed many international pavilions and stretched 635 acres on the north end of the city between Van Ness and the Presidio. Of the dozens of structures that were built for the fair, only the Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District survives.

This highlight footage is a wonderful record of the exquisite courtyards, towers and entertainment that a patron attending the fair could experience. The worldwide attention that the fair received helped to reinvigorate the morale, industry and commerce of the city of San Francisco.

To view the complete film, totaling nearly sixteen minutes, click here.

According to Scott Watanabe, Big Hero 6 is set in an alternate future where after the 1906 earthquake, San Francisco was rebuilt by Japanese immigrants using techniques that allow movement and flexibility in a seismic event. After the city was finished being rebuilt, it was renamed San Fransokyo due to it being a city with Japanese and American architecture combined.


Photographer Arnold Genthe with lady friends. 

1. San Francisco between 1896 and 1911.
2. Long Beach, New York between 1911 and 1942.

Arnold Genthe (January 8, 1869 – August 9, 1942) was a German-born American photographer, best known for his photographs of San Francisco’s Chinatown, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and his portraits of noted people, from politicians and socialites to literary figures and entertainment celebrities.

Arnold Genthe was born in Berlin, Prussia, to Louise Zober and Hermann Genthe, a professor of Latin and Greek at the Graues Kloster (Grey Monastery) in Berlin. Genthe followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a classically trained scholar; he received a doctorate in philology in 1894 from the University of Jena, where he knew artist Adolf Menzel, his mother’s cousin.

After emigrating to San Francisco in 1895 to work as a tutor for the son of Baron and Baroness J. Henrich von Schroeder, he taught himself photography. He was intrigued by the Chinese section of the city and photographed its inhabitants, from children to drug addicts. Due to his subjects’ possible fear of his camera or their reluctance to have pictures taken, Genthe sometimes hid his camera. He also sometimes removed evidence of Western culture from these pictures, cropping or erasing as needed. About 200 of his Chinatown pictures survive, and these comprise the only known photographic depictions of the area before the 1906 earthquake.

After local magazines published some of his photographs in the late 1890s, he opened a portrait studio. He knew some of the city’s wealthy matrons, and as his reputation grew, his clientele included Nance O'Neil, Sarah Bernhardt, Nora May French, and Jack London. In 1904 he traveled to Western Europe and Tangier with the famous watercolorist, Francis McComas.

In 1906, the San Francisco earthquake and fire destroyed Genthe’s studio, but he rebuilt. Within a short time, Genthe joined the art colony in Carmel-by-the-Sea, where he fraternized with the literary elite, including George Sterling, Jack London, Harry Leon Wilson, Ambrose Bierce, and Mary Austin. Here he was able to pursue his work in color photography. Of his new residence, he wrote, “The cypresses and rocks of Point Lobos, the always varying sunsets and the intriguing shadows of the sand dunes offered a rich field for color experiments.” Although his stay in Carmel was relatively short (1905–07), he was appointed in 1907 to the Board of Directors of the Art Gallery in Monterey’s luxury Hotel Del Monte, where he insured that the work of important regional art photographers, such as Laura Adams Armer and Anne Brigman, was displayed with his own prints. By the spring of 1907 he had established his residence and studio at 3209 Clay Street in San Francisco, where he continued to enjoy membership in the celebrated Bohemian Club, attend prominent society functions, display his own work, and pen newspaper reviews of photo and art exhibitions.

In 1911 he moved to New York City, where he remained until his death of a heart attack in 1942. He worked primarily in portraiture, and Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and John D. Rockefeller all sat for him. His photos of Greta Garbo were credited with boosting her career. He also photographed modern dancers, including Anna Pavlova, Isadora Duncan, and Ruth St. Denis, and his photos were featured in the 1916 book, The Book of the Dance.

Source: Wikipedia.

Daily Monster 147: The Whintosser

Region of origin: San Francisco, California, United States

The whintosser was a ferocious beast renowned for its stability and ability to survive. Their prism-shaped bodies, multiple sets of legs and swiveling heads makes sure it’s always upright in any conditions (it is alleged the creature appeared in the spring of 1906, coinciding with the Great San Francisco Earthquake). No amount of beating, shooting or other traditional hunting methods seem to fell the beast, only increasing its fury. The only known way to kill one was forcing it into an active flume pipe, with all three sets of feet touching a hot surface and would tear itself apart trying to escape.

“Don wanted to figure out a logical explanation for how a mash-up city like this could exist.  I came up with the idea that, after the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, Japanese immigrants rebuilt the place using techniques that allow movement and flexibility in a seismic event.” -Scott Watanabe, Big Hero 6 art director, environments