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Alexander Historical Auctions LLC

Lot 118

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Description: 1906 SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKE
Contemporary typescript Ms.S. with holograph corrections by "J. B. Hudson", 3pp. legal folio, [San Francisco, 1906]. Identified as a "copy of letter sent Albany Commercial Travelers Club", a detailed eyewitness account of the aftermath of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. Hudson describes the scene, in very small part: "...As one crosses the bay from Oakland to San Francisco, the first object that meets his gaze as the boat approaches the ferry slip, is the clock in the tower of the Ferry Station, with its motionless hands pointing to sixteen minutes past five. The silent clock reveals the story of the earthquake of April 18th...The full estimate of the damage in San Francisco is difficult to determine on account of the calamitous fire that followed in its wake...The steel skyscrapers stood the shock but little damage...The wooden houses stood the strain as a rule, although there were some exceptions. The loss of life was between three and four hundred. That is the number of bodies reported by the coroner, but the ruins may bring more to light. The calamity was so great in San Francisco, that other places that suffered as great in proportion have been overlooked. Santa Rosa...was totally destroyed by earthquake and fire and over five hundred lives lost. The beautiful memorial church erected by Mrs. Leland Stanford for Stanford University was totally destroyed...Oakland suffered a property loss of over two millions...[Meanwhile back in San Francisco]Five miles of flame, no water to fight it, the constant booming of dynamite as the soldiers tried to check the flames by blowing up buildings, the great stream of people filling the streets, saving the few effects they could carry in their hands or drag along, finding shelter in the mourning only to be driven out in the afternoon and at last obliged to spend their nights in the streets, the cemeteries and public parks, and all the horror lasting three days, could be experienced and endured but cannot be described...Chinatown...was totally destroyed and the Chinamen scattered, a large number coming to Oakland. Even their stoical faces betrayed a great strain they had passed through. The burning of Chinatown revealed the truth of the vague stories we had head of mysterious underground passageways. A perfect labyrinth of these tortuous paths, running in some cases several blocks, were discovered after the fire. No wonder that murders could not be found. The secrets these passages will unearth remain to be seen...It is said by the Chief of Police that there is no crime and but few arrests have been made. In fact the force has little to do as perfect order is the rule in both camp and city. There is sorrow but patience; regrets but sublime courage; temporary poverty but enthusiastic hope for the future on the part of all the people...". Much more fine content. Marginal chips, some partial fold separations, else very good.

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March 30, 2011 11:00 AM EDT

Stamford, CT, US

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