After the Earthquake, San Francisco
Arnold Genthe (American (born Germany), Berlin 1869–1942 New Milford, Connecticut)
Gelatin silver print
13.3 x 23.5 cm (5 1/4 x 9 1/4 in.)
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933
Not on view
Early on the morning of April 18, 1906, a severe earthquake rocked San Francisco, immediately prompting a devastating three-day fire. Genthe, a pictorialist photographer who operated a portrait studio on Sutton Street, captured the panic and confusion that pervaded the city and presaged the vast damage yet to come: by the end of the third day, more than four square miles of San Francisco had been leveled. Adding to the trauma of earthquake and fire were the controlled explosions of dynamite meant to eliminate structurally compromised buildings.
H. Wild, a resident of downtown, described a scene similar to Genthe's photograph in her notebook: "The fire spread more and more. The sight from our roof was a grand and terrible one. . . . The fires had spread from Franklin downward to Market on our street and the whole city in every direction below us was ablaze and crackled [with] explosions of dynamite."
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