An evocative photograph of San Francisco City Hall destroyed by the 1906 Earthquake.

City Hall, San Francisco, CA Ruined by Earthquake, April 18, ’06 No. 108.


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SKU: NL-01735 Category: Tags: ,
Cartographer(s): Not listed
Date: 1906
Place: San Francisco
Dimensions: 20.5 x 15 cm (8 x 6 in)
Condition Rating: VG+


This photograph of Old San Francisco City Hall was taken shortly after the powerful 1906 Earthquake.

In 1906, San Francisco’s city hall was located at 8th and Market Street, the present-day site of the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library. The post-earthquake image of the empty shell of this building quickly became world famous, both because it represented the destruction of a great city and the inability of authorities to mitigate this disaster, but also because of the picturesque way in which the building had collapsed; it’s splendid dome still balancing in place on its steel scaffolding, creating a dramatic scene that embodied what the city had gone through and lost.

The central tower is surrounded by utter destruction and collapse. The only part of the original complex that survived more or less intact was the lower domed rotunda east of the main hall, known as the Hall of Records. This building was largely unscathed by the earthquake itself but was severely damaged by the subsequent fires. When plans were made to rebuild City Hall in a slightly different spot (two blocks down), the Hall of Records and the rest of the complex were demolished. City Hall was, of course, rebuilt. The building in use today was completed in time for the 1915 opening of the Panama Pacific International Exposition and was modeled on the United States Capitol.


Condition Description

Very good.