San Francisco Earthquake 1906 – Before and After Journey Down Market Street

How quickly, and easily, Nature can obliterate our fragile civilization!

Jon Jones – Jan 30, 2010 – 6:46
h/t Poppins on A♠
Here is a side-by-side comparison of two filmed journeys down Market Street shot in April of 1906 sourced from the Prelinger Archives at

The video on the left has enjoyed wide circulation online, but has often been incorrectly dated to 1905. Subsequent research by Historian David Kiehn of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, has determined that the footage was actually shot by Harry and Herbert Miles on April 14th, 1906, only 4 days before the catastrophic event and subsequent fires leveled much of the city, resulting in conditions depicted in the video on the right, and of which the initial production source is unknown. Rick Prelinger, of the aforementioned Prelinger Archives has suggested that the post-event footage depicted on the right may have been shot by an Edison cameraman. (Update: It is believed that the imagery on the right was captured by Otis M. Gove, a noted and prolific film documentarian of that era, and who was working in the western United States at that time as a contracted traveling cameraman for Edison Studios.)

Both of these files are an extraction from longer source footage available from the Prelinger Archives. Some of that footage has been omitted from this presentation due to substantially poor presentation quality of the source content. Both files were adjusted to correct original capture timing, and the video on the right was horizontally flipped to correct the reversed-image version found in the Archives at the time of this posting.

These videos are also presented with only an approximate rudimentary synchronization of imagery. More precise synchronization has proven elusive due to differences in speed of travel, position of camera in relation to surroundings, dynamics of original imaging optics, and retention of content. As close as possible, the intent has been to show the structures and landmarks on the left in contrast with the devastation of the matching scenes on the right.

(Added note: The word “Trolley” in the video header is improperly used. What is featured as a means of transport in the video is a “cable car”. My apologies for any confusion this may have caused.)

The musical selection is generated using Sonicfire Pro from SmartSound –

The song is called “Strange Rapture” (SS_1013)), composed by John Cacavas (ASCAP), published by Soundcast Music (ASCAP), and is licensed to me for production use through Smartsound via their Sonicfire Pro software – as part of the Drama & Documentary album.

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