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Whole Lotta Shakin' Going on

Carly Salzberg | September 22, 2014 | Lifestyle Story City Life

Editor's Note: This is one of many stories about earthquakes past and future that San Francisco is publishing over the coming weeks, all part of our October cover package, "Cracks in the Earth." To see the rest of the issue's contents, and to read stories as they become available online, click here.

January 1857
Magnitude: 7.9
Epicenter: unknown
Damage: This quake, which toppled large buildings at Fort Tejon just east of Santa Barbara, is often compared to the big one of 1906. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento all felt its tremors.

October 8, 1865
Magnitude: est. 6.5
Epicenter: Santa Cruz Mountains
damage: Reporter Mark Twain on the scene at Market Street: “The ground seemed to roll under me in waves and there was a heavy grinding noise as of brick houses rubbing together. The street car had fat man had crashed halfway through a glass window on one side of the car, got wedged fast and was squirming and screaming like an impaled madman.”

October 21, 1868
Magnitude: 6.8–7
Epicenter: Hayward Fault Zone
Damage: Striking just three years after the Santa Cruz quake, this earthquake destroyed or significantly damaged almost every building in Hayward. It also demolished the Alameda County Courthouse in San Leandro, after which the county seat was relocated to its current site in Oakland.

The Big One! April 18, 1906
Magnitude: 7.9
Epicenter: about 2 miles off the coast of Daly City
Damage: The tremor and its 135 subsequent aftershocks ignited numerous fires that raged out of control for three days, burning almost everything within a 4.7-square-mile area. An estimated 3,000 people died, and 28,000 buildings were destroyed. The $524 million in damage equaled the federal budget of 1906.

March 22, 1957
Magnitude: 5.3
daly city
Damage: The largest quake to hit the peninsula since 1906 damaged 300 houses in Daly City’s Westlake area. Chimneys fell and plaster cracked in San Francisco. The pavement along Lake Merced collapsed into the lake. Landslides blocked Highway 1 near Mussel Rock (the epicenter of the 1906 quake).

November 8, 1980
Magnitude: 7.2
Epicenter: Diablo-Greenville fault zone
Damage: The largest quake in this area in nearly three-quarters of a century injured six people and caused approximately $2 million in property damage. Most of the damage occurred east of Humboldt Bay, where two sections of a 101 overpass collapsed onto railroad tracks below.

Loma Prieta October 17, 1989
Epicenter: near Loma Prieta Peak in the forest of Nisene Marks State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains
Damage: sections of the Bay Bridge and the Cypress structure collapsed, and downtown Santa Cruz was heavily damaged. The area as a whole suffered somewhere between $6 billion and $10 billion in damages, 63 people died, and the World Series “Battle of the Bay” was postponed.

August 24, 2014
Magnitude: 6.0
Epicenter: Napa
Damage: The first major quake felt in the Bay Area since Loma Prieta, this shaker hit Napa Valley at 3:20 a.m., tossing wine barrels, sparking a fire in a mobile home park, buckling sidewalks, killing one and injuring over 200 people.

Originally published in the October issue of San Francisco

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