San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Snapshots: The Aftermath
“When the sea of flames finally died down, some of the burned-over areas smoldered for weeks, and the wilderness of ruins was beyond words.” —Charles Kendrick
The total damage of the earthquake and fire amounted to nearly $500,000,000 as 4.7 square miles of offices, apartments, hotels, theatres, homes, and city buildings lay in ruin.
Many people, discouraged by the destruction, left the city, never to return, but several others stayed with hopes of rebuilding their old home out of the ashes. One of Arnold Genthe’s friend sent him a telegram inviting him to live in New York since he had lost everything, to which he responded:
It was heartening and consoling to have this fine proof of real friendship. The temptation was great, but I was not willing to leave San Francisco then. I wanted to stay, to see the new city which would rise out of the ruins. I felt that my place was there. I had something to contribute, even if only in a small measure, to the rebuilding of the city.
It took several years to reconstruct San Francisco from the disaster of April 18, 1906, but the city lived on and continues to thrive today. John Lorin Taylor returned to his home in Ogden, Utah. His relatives later donated the photographs to Utah State University’s Special Collections & Archives in 2003.