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Sydney Tyler.

San Francisco's great disaster; a full account of the recent terrible destruction of life and property by earthquake, fire and volcano in California and at Vesuvius .. online

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men was that extending from Nob Hill section down to
the northwestern part of the water front. The western
addition danger was averted at 2.30 o'clock on Sunday
morning by the use of gun cotton, dynamite and two
streams of water. The explosives were handled by the
chief gunner of the Mare Island Navy Yard, and his ac-
complishments proved him to be a master of his profes-
sion.

Both the Mayor and Chief of Police Dinan, when
asked for statements, expressed themselves as thankful that
the fire was virtually controlled. Chief Dinan said that
the order of the city astonished him. He thought it due
to earlier severe measures taken by the soldiers and police
in shooting down offenders.

The only bank in the huge ruined district that escaped
destruction was the Market Street Bank, at the corner of
Seventh and Market streets. It is in the gutted Grand
Building, but on the ground floor.

A corner of the city near the Pacific Mail wharves
at Second and Brannan streets was not ruined and the
Sailors' Home was saved.

The Postal Telegraph Company, on Sunday night,
restored its cable connection with the Orient by establishing
a station at Ocean Beach.

Thousands of members of families were still separated
and with no means of learning one another's whereabouts.
The police opened a bureau of registration to bring rela-
tives together.



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92 SAN FRANCISCO S GREAT DISASTER,

HIGH PRICES FOR WAGON HIRE.

It was impossible to secure a vehicle except at exor-
bitant prices. One merchant engaged a teamster and his
horses and wagon, agreeing to pay $50 an hour. Charges
of $20 for carrying trunks a few blocks were common.
The police and military seized teams wherever they re-
quired them; their wishes being enforced at revolver point
if the owner proved indisposed to comply with the de-
mands.

A policeman reported that two groceries in the neigh-
borhood were closed, although the clerks were present.
"Smash the stores open," ordered the Mayor, ''and gaurd
them."

The work of relief started early on Sunday. A
big bakery in the saved district started its ovens and ar-
ranged to bake 50,000 loaves before night. Thousands of
people were in line before the California street bakery.
The police and military were present in force and each per-
son was allowed only one loaf.

The homeless people in the parks and vacant lots were
provided for as speedily as possible. The destitution and
suffering was indescribable. Women and children who had
comfortable homes a few days before slept — if sleep came
at all — on hay on the wharves, on the sand lots near North
Beach, some of them under the IFttle tents made of sheeting,
which poorly protected them from the chilling ocean winds.
The people in the parks were possibly better off in the mat-
ter of shelter, for they left their homes better prepared. In-
structions were issued by Mayor Schmitz to break open
every store containing provisions and distribute them to the
thousands under police supervision. The Young Men's



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SAN Francisco's great disaster. 93

Hebrew Association's hall, near Golden Gate Park, was
stocked with provisions for the use of needy victims in the
adjacent fields.

The Southern Pacific Company succeeded in getting
the first train through on the coast division on Friday night.
It ran into the station at the comer of Third and Towns-
end Streets. Large gangs of men worked night and day
until they opened the whole division.

The automobile played an important part in San Fran-
cisco, first by carrying dynamite from place to place in the
fight against the fire, in transporting troops and firemen to
places of danger, in bringing in supplies and forwarding
press matter and telegrams to Oakland, and in a thousand
other ways that proved valuable.

Almost every private machine in the city was in use,
many of them voluntarily tendered, others seized by the
military authorities.

The drivers were impressed into service. Working
day and night from the hour of the earthquake, some of
these operators were without sleep for days. As a result
several of the chauffeurs fell into collapse in front of the
municipal headquarters.

On the steps of the shattered churches and on the green
slopes of parks and cemeteries people assembled at the usual
hours on Sunday for religious services. Grateful for the op-
portunity to publicly express thanks for their preservation
and anxious for the words of cheer and comfort that will
carry them through future trials, the people assembled in
even larger numbers than was customary. There was no dis-
tinction as to sect or denomination, the gatherings includ-
ing as a rule a large percentage of the families camping
©r residin|^ in the vicinity. Catholic clergymen celebrated



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94 SAN FRANCISCO S GREAT DISASTER.

masses in the Jewish cemetery and every creed knelt with
bowed heads while the services were in progress.

On the steps of St. Mary's Cathedral and on the up-
heaved pavement of Golden Gate avenue, overlooking the
blackened waste that begins just across the street, Arch-
bishop Montgomery celebrated mass at 8 o'clock. The
service was attended by thousands, covering the church
steps and extending well up and down the street in either
direction.

The Archbishop's words and his relerence to the death
of Fire Chief Sullivan affected the entire assemblage, tears
streaming down hundreds of faces upturned to the tiny
altar in the open doorway of the vestibule.

Five masses were celebrated at St. Mary's Cathedral.
The Archbishop in his sermon recommended to the people
that they be at all times submissive to the authorities, civil
and military.

Close to the graves in Calvary Cemetery, on the nar-
row porch of a tiny house that stands within the graveyard
inclosure, three masses were celebrated for the congrega-
tion of Holy Cross Church. They were largely attended,
and the theme of the sermons was hope and courage in the
face of adversity.



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IN THE PATH OF THE CONFLAGRATION

San Francisco Bay is a long inlet in the western
coast of California, forty-two miles long and from five to
twelve miles wide. A long arm of land separates it from
the ocean. The middle of that long ocean arm is pierced
by a connecting link of water four miles long and one mile
wide; that is the Golden Gate. South of the Golden Gate
is a peninsula. And on the northern end of that tongue of
land is San Francisco, the metropolis of the West, the largest
city west of the Missouri River, the ninth largest city in
the country, with a population of more than 400,000.

San Francisco is an cAd city. The first settlement made
on the hilly peninsula was in 1769, when a party of Domini-
can padres who were looking for Monterey discovered the
San Francisco Bay. The town was named after St. Francis,
the founder of the order. In 1776 Governor Duigo Borica
sent Don Pedro de Albemi to report upon the upper end
of the southern peninsula as a place for a growing town.
Having decided that both water and wood was too scarce
on the peninsula to support a growing villaj^e, Don Pedro
reported that the worst place in all California to start a
city was what has become San Francisco.

Commodore Montgomery took possession of San
Francisco for the United States in 1846, while Mexico and
the United States were at war. Previous to the discovery
of gold in the late forties the little town on the bay or
eastern comer of the soutfiem peninsula had but a thou-
sand inhabitants. It grew up like a mushroom from that
time on, in ^ite of its five destructive fires between 1848
and 185 1, which swept out of existence the business section
pf the city and destroyed $16,000,000 worth of property.

97



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^8 SAN FkANCISCo's GREAT DISASTER.

BECAME A METROPOLIS.

San Francisco became, nevertheless, the metropolis of
the gold-producing section. It was filled with a class of ad-
venturous young men, and it had few old men and few
women. Following the great fires, the town was so upset
that a Vigilance Committee was made up to preserve order.
For several years the law of the land was the committee,
and many a man was hung because the committee so willed
it Crude as was this administration of law, it was effective,
and San Francisco grew amazingly. In i860 the population
was 56,802; in 1880 it was 233,959. The United States
census gave it 342,782 in 1900, and now it claims over
400,000.

The population of the city is the most cosmopolitan
in the country, one-third of the people being of foreign
birth. Of the foreign element the Germans predominate
with some 40,000, the Irish coming next with nearly 25,000
souls. The Chinese now number possibly less than 25,000,
and it is reported that the number is diminishing yearly.
The Japanese of late years have been coming into the city
fast. The Oriental atmosphere is more pronounced in San
Francisco than in any other city of the United States.

Despite the saying of the old Spaniard in the early days
that the peninsula by the bay was the worst place in all Cali-
fornia upon which to found a town, its position has helped
San Francisco in its remarkable growth. It is the boast
of California that all the navies in the world might ride
in the land-locked bay. Shut in on all sides by rocky moun-
tains of from 1000 to 2000 feet in height, San Francisco
Bay is a perfect natural harbor, to which the shipping of
the West has been naturally attracted.

The upper end of the bay connects with San Pablo



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SAN Francisco's great disaster. 99

Bay, which is some ten miles in diameter, and that in turn
connects with Suisun Bay by the Strait of Karquines.
The waters of the Sacramento and San Joaquin empty
into Suisun Bay.

The situation of the city upon its peninsula gives it a
unique climate. The Summer trade winds blow across the
city, and during thirty years of observation the lowest
temperature recorded was 29 degrees and the highest 100,
while the lowest mean temperature for any one month in
that period was 46 degrees and the highest 65 degrees.
Semi-tropic^Uplants grow there in the winter.

And so because of its harbor, its climate, and its sur-
rounding country, San Francisco grew to be the metropolis
of the Pacific Coast. Its harbor is the chief cause of its
upbuilding. From San Francisco run steamship lines to
China and Japan, Australia, Mexico, Central and South
America and the Hawaiian and Philippine Islands. An ac-
tive coastwise trade centres at San Francisco. The activity
of trade in the city is reflected by its bank clearings, which
were more than a billion dollars in 1902. Since the Spanish-
American war and the Russo-Japanese war trade through
the Western port has increased enormously.

The western side of the long southern peninsula is
hilly, sloping down to the eastward to the bay, where along
the northeastern shore much of the ground now occupied
by the wholesale and banking and real estate buildings has
been made by filling in. Some of the houses in these sec-
tions are built on piles driven down to bed rock. Along
the southern edges of the city are several suburban settle-
ments, and across the bay on the main coast to the eastward
are Oakland, Port Richmond, Berkeley, Sausalito, Alameda,
and other suburban places.

The city covers forty-seven square miles and there are



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lOO SAN FRANCISCO*S GREAT DISASTER.

750 miles of streets and twenty miles of boulevards. The
city is governed by a charter adopted by the people in 1900.
The city is free from debt. There is a provision in the
charter that only one per cent, of the assessed valuation of
property may be collected for ordinary municipal purposes,
but a clause makes provision for the levying of an extra
tax to meet extraordinary requirements. The assessed
value of San Francisco property in 1903 was $428,000,000.

GREAT FERRIES.

The Southern Pacific Railway is the only one that
comes into San Francisco from the South by the mainland.
The other systems take passengers to the city by huge
ferryboats from Oakland and Point Richmond, across the
bay. Even the Southern Pacific uses ferries into the city.
Practically all who go to San Francisco by the land enter
through the biggest ferry house in the world, which is
at the northeast comer of the peninsula on the bay side.

The State maintains this ferry building, whose iron
work was twisted by the earthquake. It is over 800 feet
long, built of light-colored sandstone, and surmounted by
a clock tower. The building contains a lofty nave, which
is frequently used for exhibit purposes by the State. A
complete exhibit of the mineral resources is maintained
there by the State Mining Bureau. The ferry building is
marked by quite a little architectural beauty.

Coming on the various big ferries from the railway
terminals across the bay to the eastward, the traveler goes
througfh the ferry building out to see San Francisco. Stretch-
ing out in front of him is Market Street, the main thor-
oughfare of the city, correspondini? to New York's Broad-
way. It runs southwestwardly across to about the middle



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SAN FRANCISCO S GREAT DISASTER. lOI

of the peninsula, where it stops. The traveler will notice
appreciated, and their details never lose dramatic interest
that the streets north of Market run down to it in a straight
north and south direction, thus making a number of irregu-
lar triangular-shaped blocks. To the south of Market
Street the blocks are laid off perfectly square. Away out
at the ead of Market Street one sees the Twin Peaks, the
land rising up as it goes westward, so that looking at San
Francisco from the east the houses seem to be piled one on
another. Often the streets have a 50 per cent, rise, and
afong some sidewalks wooden cleats are nailed to assist
one in climbing.

Before starting to walk out on Market, "up on" Market
Street, the San Franciscan says, the traveler may take his
directions. Straight across the rocky hills on the western
side of the peninsula is the Pacific Ocean. On both sides
of the Ferry Buiding, along the water front, extending
some little distance, is the wholesale section of the city. On
the right are many banks. At the northern point of the pen-
insula, to the northwest of one going in by way of the fer-
ries, is the Presidio Reservation, where are soldiers.

Walking "up" Market Street four or five blocks one
came to Sansome Street. To the right four ®r five blocks
was Chinatown, where practically all the Chinese of the
city were huddled, twice as many in winter as in summer,
because the harvest season draws them out to the farms.

MANY BIG BUILDINGS.

Walking up a block or so more on Market Street, one
came to Montgomery Street, near one of the centres of de-
struction. To the right was the big Postal Telegraph Build-



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io:« SAN Francisco's great disaster.

ing, which was destroyed. To the left of Market Street
was the Grand Hotel. In this neighborhood were many
restaurants and theatres.

The next street is Kearney Street, which comes in from
the right. At that comer stood The Chronicle Building.
It was the first of the higher buildings in San Francisco.
Coming into Market Street from the left at about the same
place as Kearney is Third Street. At the southwestern
comer was the building of The Examiner. This is News-
paper Corner. Across Third Street, on the northwest cor-
ner, was the huge Spreckels Building, in which was The
Call ; it was destroyed. Just west of the Spreckels Building
were the Grand Opera House and the Winchester House.

This section is the shopping district of the city. Many
of the stores are, or were, on Market Street, but most of
them were in the streets just to the right of it — Kearney,
Sutter, Post, Geary, Grant, and Stockton Streets.

MAQNIFICENT CITY HALL.

Looking up Market Street some three miles one sees
Yerba Buena Park, just to the right of the street. There
was the magnificent City Hall, the most conspicuous build-
ing in the city, surmounted with a dome 332 feet high.
It required twenty-five years to build, and its cost varied,
according to different reports, from $6,000,000 to $9,000,-
000.

Running parellel with Market Street one block to the
south of it is Mission Street, and on the corner of Mission
and Seventh Streets was the Post Office. About opposite
Seventh Street, on the right side of Market Street, was
the Flood Building, a huge $1,500,000 office structure.



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SAN FRANCISCO'S GREAT DISASTER. IO3

In this neighborhood also was the Valencia Hotel. To
the north of Market Street, between the City Hall and the
Presidio Reservation, near the Golden Gate, is the hilly
and fashionable residence section of the city. It is called
"Nob Hill," and there the millionaires who put through
the overland railways built their palatial homes, and there
other rich men have also bought homes.

BURNED AREA TWENTY-SIX MILES AROUND. *^^

When some order had been restored it was possible to
get about and measure the extent of disaster. An auto-
mobile loaded with newspaper men was sent out to deter-
mine with accuracy the boundaries of the conflagration.
In skirting the burned area on its four sides, this auto-
mobile traveled twenty-six miles as shown by the register
on the machine. This does not show the exact circumfer-
ence of the burned section, but it shows the length of the
line along which the flames traveled. The area skirted
by the automobile included the financial, commercial and
most of the densely populated portion of the residence dis-
trict, with all the splendid institutions and great mansions
that had grown up with the progress of the city.

The start of the tour was made from the Pacific Mail
dock at the corner of First and Brannan streets. Travel-
ing along the north line of Brannan the fire ate its way to
Second, where it crossed the street and consumed the
warehouse of the great wine firm of Lachman and Jacobi,
at the southeast corner of Brannan and Second. Thence
it moved along the west side of Second to Townsend an. I
along the north line of Townsend to Seventh. On this
particular front it licked up the great building of the
Southern Pacific at the corner of Fourth and Townsend
streets.



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I04 SAN FRANCISCO S GREAT DISASTER.

Directly in front of the ruins of this building there
were already evidences of the undaunted spirit that ani-
mated the citizens of San Francisco, for a hundred men
were at work clearing the debris from Fourth street so that
the Southern Pacific might run spur tracks northerly along
the line of Fourth to Market street for the purpose of car-
rying away the immense masses of brick and ruined ma-
terial littering the streets and sites of the business houses
that so lately crowded that area. And in this connection
it is noted that the freight and passenger depots along the
southerly side of Townsend street as far east as Third,
though built in the most fragile manner and of the most
perishable materials were not so much as scorched.

Standing at the comer of Fourth and Townsend
streets one's eye caught the ruins of the great brick
Catholic Church of St. Rose, one block distant on Bran-
nan, near Fourth, which some eight years ago suffered
a visitation of fire and had only lately risen on its ruin in
what seemed to be imperishable brick and stone.

STREETS SUNK INTO GREAT GAPS.

It was noted that the block bounded by Seventeenth
and Eighteenth, and Howard and Shotwell, though spared
by the flames, had been terribly shaken by the quake. In
some instances the houses were a mass of ruins, it being
thought that of all the buildings in that square the only
two that might be saved from the wreck were those ot
Lawyer W. C. Graves at 2189 Howard. Even the frame
Catholic Church of St. Charles at Shotwell and Eighteenth
appeared to be unsafe. The streets in this vicinity were
sunk from six to eight feet in places and the earth opened
in great gaps while the rails ofithe car system were twisted
and br6ken.



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SAN FRANCISCO S GREAT DISASTER. I07

The fire extended along tlie southerly line of Golden
Gate avenue to Van Ness, and along the easterly line of
Van Ness to Sutter, where it crossed to the west side and
burned the blocks from the north line of Sutter and the
east line of Franklin through to Qay. In this district
were included some of the most splendid mansions of the
city, chief among which was the home of Glaus Spreckels,
at the southwest corner of Qay and Van Ness avenues.
This splendid piece of architecture, done in brown stone
in the chateau style and adorned with all that wealth and
taste could gather, was blackened and divested of all its
beauty.

ALL OF THE OLD LANDMARKS GONE.

Old landmarks, made famous by association with the
early history of California as well as the new monuments
to the commercial prosperity of California's metropolis,
have been wiped out of existence. One of the first land-
marks to fall a prey to the flames was the Palace Hotel,
known the world over to travelers. It was built in the '70's
by James Ralston at a cost of $6,000,000 and was owned
by the Sharon estate.

At Post street and Grant avenue stood the Bohemian
Qub, one of the widest-known social organizations in the
world. Its membership includes many men famous in art,
literature and commerce. Its rooms were decorated with
the work of members, many of whose names are known
wherever j>aintings are discussed and many of them price-
less in their associations. Most of these were saved. There
were on special exhibition in the "J^^^^s" room of the Bo-
hemian Club a dozen paintings by old masters, including
a Rembrandt, a Diaz, a Murillo, and others, probably
worth $100,000. These were lost.



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io8 SAN Francisco's great disaster.

The district on California street, from Powell to Jones
street, known as Nob Hill, which was swept by fire, con-
tained the most palatial homes of San Francisco. The
summit of the hill is about 500 feet above the sea level and
gives a magnificent view of San Francisco Bay and the
country for many miles around.

FAMOUS STANFORD HOME.

At the southwest corner of California and Powell
streets, just on the brink of the hill, was the Stanford resi-
dence. At the death of Mrs. Stanford, in Honolulu, the
mansion became the property of Leland Stanford, Jr.,
University. It contained many art treasures of great
value.

On the southeast corner of the same block stood the
home of the late Mark Hopkins, who amassed many miV
lions along with Stanford, C. P. Huntington, and Charles
Crocker in the construction of the Central Pacific Rail-
road. The Hopkins home was presented to the Univer-
sity of California by his heirs, and it was known as the
Hopkins Art Institute.

Across California street from the Stanford and Hop-
kins home stood the Fairmount Hotel, which had been
under construction for more than two years. It was a
handsome, white stone structure, seven stories high, and
occupies an entire block.

One block west of the Fairmount is the Flood home,
a huge, brownstone mansion, said to have cost more than
$r,ooo,ooo. The Huntington home occupies the block
on California street just west of the Flood home. The
Crocker residence, with its huge lawns and magnificent
stables, is on the west of the Huntington home. Many
other beautiful and costly homes are situated on the hill.



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SAN FRANCISCO S GREAT DISASTER. I09

REDUCED TO RUINS.

The Olympic Qub, Post and Mason streets, the oldest
regularly organized athletic association in the United
States, and famous for its appointments and for the num-
ber of athletes it has developed, was burned to a skeleton.
The building was worth $300,000, and its furnishings were
.rf the finest quality.

The great new Flood Building, built by James Flood
at a cost of $4,000,000, and occupied about a year ago;
the new Merchants' Exchange Building, in California



Online LibrarySydney TylerSan Francisco's great disaster; a full account of the recent terrible destruction of life and property by earthquake, fire and volcano in California and at Vesuvius .. → online text (page 6 of 25)