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1868 Damage Photographs

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“Call” Editorial on Quake Damage

“Call” Editorial Urges Building Height Limit

Fire Chief Urges Care with Fire

Bd. of Supervisor’s Special Earthquake Meeting

Earthquakes and Real Estate Prices

Chamber of Commerce Telegram to the East

How to Act During an Earthquake

The "Temblores"– They Prove the Strength
and Weakness of San Francisco.

The earthquake shocks of yesterday very naturally created a great amount of panic among the people of the city, being, as they were, the heaviest ever known in this portion of the American Continent. To say that there was not a great excitement, a "great scare," a panic, would be to assert what is not the truth. Under the circumstances it was but natural that people should be alarmed, and that great excitement should ensue; but the shakes of Wednesday served this good purpose: they prove at once the strength and weakness of the city.

Though, unfortunately, lives were lost, fortunately the earthquake showed us how to prevent the loss of life, and the little damage done (compared to what might have been done) proved that with a sensible system of building we have no more to fear from earthquakes than the people of other communities have to fear from hurricanes and floods.

That property was damaged to a considerable extent is true; it is also true that some lives were lost. That houses were destroyed was owing to the ignorance, greed, or stupidity of those who built them. The great majority of the brick buildings stood the shock without trouble. All would have done so had their builders exercised common sense and a proper regard for the welfare of the city. That lives were lost is owing to the insane policy of running buildings up to the height of four and five stories, and of covering them with fragile plaster ornaments.

As we said three years ago, we now say: the city authorities should prohibit the erection of buildings of more than thirty-five feet in height. They should also prohibit the erection of "fire-walls," and the other man-traps in the shape of cornices, brackets, and other "filigree" ornaments on buildings, which are not only offensive to good taste, but do endanger life.

The lives lost yesterday are not chargeable to the earthquake, but to the vanity, greed and meanness of those who erected the buildings. Yesterday's earthquake was undoubtedly the heaviest the city has ever experienced. It served to prove what we have all along contended was the fact, that a sensible system of building is only necessary to make this city as safe as any in the world.

When we consider the lives and property destroyed, we find that they are not as great as those sacrifices in the floods of Baltimore and New York, or in other visitations of Providence which have afflicted out sister cities of the Union. We have, therefore, reason to feel grateful for the immunities we have enjoyed, and the comparatively safe region and climate in which our fortunes have been cast.

San Francisco Morning Call Editorial
Thursday, October 22, 1868

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