Library of Congress > Collections > Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897-1916

Collection Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897-1916

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  • The Actuality Film -- Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897-1916

    The earliest popular venues for motion pictures were nickelodeons -- peep show parlors where machines played short film loops, or films on flip cards called mutoscopes, for individual viewers on demand. By the turn of the century, films were being shown in store-front theaters and traveling carnivals. Significantly, movies also began to be projected in vaudeville and burlesque theaters, sharing the bill with a ...

    • Date: 1897
  • Rights and Access -- Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897-1916

    Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress The Library of Congress is providing access to these materials for educational and research purposes. The written permission of the copyright owners and/or other rights holders (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. The ...

  • Exploded gas tanks, U.S. Mint, Emporium and Spreckels Bld'g /

    This film is a spectacular pan of the downtown area of San Francisco as seen from south of Market Street. The location among low ruins was ideal to view the tall ruined buildings along and north of Market Street. Since the facade of St. Patrick's Church is not visible in the pan, the film is probably later than May 9, the date the facade ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1906
  • Over route of Roosevelt parade in an automobile /

    This film is a review by automobile of the arrival parade route of President Theodore Roosevelt, on Tuesday, May 12, 1903. The film was shot from about 2:10 pm to 2:15 pm (shortly before the 3 pm parade) and shows street and building decorations and excited crowds. The portion of the route shown is in the heart of the downtown business district. The later ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1903
  • Early San Francisco -- Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897-1916

    The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire rivalled the Chicago fire of 1871 in the annals of urban disasters in America. Large conflagrations were common in cities of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which were often crowded and lacked the sophisticated safety consciousness of today. However, the totality of destruction caused by these two disasters was extraordinary, comparable only to that of the ...

    • Date: 1897
  • Hotel Vendome, San Jose, Cal. /

    This brief film shows an excursion party passing in the carriage drive of the Vendome Hotel, a major resort hotel in San Jose, south of San Francisco. The exact date of the film is unknown, but may be in October 1897. The camera faces north-northwest in the carriage drive, toward the main (east) entrance of the hotel. Two excursion stages, a surrey, and three ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1897
  • America at the Turn of the Century: A Look at the Historical Context -- Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897-1916

    The National Setting By 1900 the American nation had established itself as a world power. The West was won. The frontier -- the great fact of 300 years of American history -- was no more. The continent was settled from coast to coast. Apache war chief Geronimo had surrendered in 1886. Defeat of the Sioux at the battle of Wounded Knee in 1891 had ...

    • Date: 1897
  • TR in San Francisco, 1903 /

    The following is a scene-by-scene description of the film: The camera was positioned on the southeast corner of O'Farrell Street and Van Ness Avenue, and pans from north to west to south, and then back to west. [Frame: 0100] The view is north on Van Ness Avenue toward the approaching band and cavalry. Students of Whittier School are in the foreground. [0604] The band ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1903
  • Scenes in San Francisco [no. 2] /

    Panoramas filmed in the ruins of downtown San Francisco and outlying refugee camps following the 1906 earthquake and fire. A scene-by-scene description of the film: [Frame: 0102] Begins with a long, pan of downtown ruins viewed from Natoma Street between 4th and 3rd streets. The pan is from left to right (west to northeast). Buildings of interest: The old San Francisco Mint, with classic ...

    • Contributor: Gove, Otis M. (Otis Meader) - American Mutoscope and Biograph Company - Paper Print Collection (Library of Congress)
    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1906
  • Market Street before parade /

    This film is an automobile tour of a portion of the arrival parade route of President Theodore Roosevelt along Market Street, San Francisco, on Tuesday, May 12, 1903. The film was shot in the mid-afternoon, shortly before the parade, which traversed this portion of the route in the reverse direction shown here. The earlier portion of the route is seen in the film "Over ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1903
  • Army pack train bringing supplies. /

    This film highlights the role of the United States Army in transporting supplies following the 1906 earthquake and fire in San Francisco. The Army's relief operations headquarters was at their base, the Presidio, outside the burned part of the city. The Army played a major role in relief and refugee operations. In the first weeks after the fire, food, water, tents, blankets, medical supplies, ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1906
  • Panoramic view of the Golden Gate /

    This film, photographed from the front of a moving steam engine, shows the scenic portion of the Ferries and Cliff House Railroad route along the bluffs and cliffs of Lands End (at the northwest corner of San Francisco) overlooking the Golden Gate and the Marin headlands. The line gave access to the famed Cliff House and Sutro Baths, previously accessed by the Point Lobos ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1902
  • Scenes in San Francisco [no. 1] /

    Views and pans among the ruins of San Francisco after the earthquake and fire. A scene-by-scene description of the film: [Frame: 0100] The camera, positioned at the southwest corner of Mission and 5th streets, makes a hurried and jerky pan from the east side of 5th Street eastward to the south side of Mission Street. At the start of the pan, the ruined Lincoln ...

    • Contributor: Gove, Otis M. (Otis Meader) - American Mutoscope and Biograph Company - Paper Print Collection (Library of Congress)
    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1906
  • Mount Tamalpais R.R.

    The following is a scene-by-scene description of the film: The first segment of the film was probably shot from the back of a passenger car being pushed up the grade by a locomotive (as was standard practice). The unseen locomotive is probably the 30-ton Heiser steam locomotive S.B. Cushing. The camera swings from east to north-northeast as the train approaches the summit station. [Frame: ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1898
  • San Francisco earthquake and fire, April 18, 1906 /

    This film shows the aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake of April 18, 1906, and the devastation resulting from the subsequent three-day fire. The 8.3 magnitude earthquake struck at 5:12am and was centered along the San Andreas Fault, which slices through coastal California. Most of the cities of central California were badly damaged. San Francisco, with thousands of unreinforced brick buildings - and thousands ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1906
  • A trip down Market Street before the fire /

    The following is a scene-by-scene description of the film: [Frame: 0300 (part 1)] The film begins looking northeast on Market Street just west of the intersection of Hyde, Grove and 8th streets. The dark building at right is the Odd Fellows Hall and the grey building beyond (across 8th St.) is the Grant Building (1905). A white postal service automobile is at left center. ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1906
  • Panorama of beach and Cliff House /

    This film is an afternoon panorama of weekend crowds at the north end of Ocean Beach, the western shore of San Francisco near the famed Cliff House. The film postdates the nearby Dutch Windmill (1902) and predates the burning of this Cliff House (1907). Until the 1920s much of western San Francisco was open sand dunes blown inland from Ocean Beach, the five-mile-long untamed ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1903
  • The President's carriage /

    This film shows President Roosevelt in San Francisco, passing in the arrival parade on Market Street on Tuesday, May 12, 1903. The camera view is from the north side of Market Street, just east of Grant Avenue. After leaving the Southern Pacific train station at Third and Townsend streets, the parade proceeded up Third Street and wound through downtown San Francisco before continuing up ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1903
  • Bird's-eye view of San Francisco, Cal., from a balloon /

    As early as 1874, passenger balloon flights were being made over San Francisco. San Franciscans - and Americans in general - were fascinated with the thrills and dangers of flight. Although balloon technology had not advanced greatly by the turn of the century, attempts at man-powered flight were sustaining public interest. The era of powered flight arrived in 1903 with the Wright brothers' flight ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1902
  • Mabel and Fatty viewing the World's Fair at San Francisco, Cal. /

    The 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition was San Francisco's second fair (following the 1894 Mid-Winter Fair) and her first major exposition. The 1915 fair celebrated both the opening of the newly-completed Panama Canal -- a triumph of Franco-American engineering -- and the newly-rebuilt San Francisco, vital and vigorous after recovering from the 1906 earthquake and fire. The fair opened on February 20, 1915, and closed December ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1915
  • San Francisco's future /

    By mid-1916, after viewing the carnage in Europe, the United States saw itself poised with great reluctance on the edge of participation in World War I. Isolationism and anti-preparedness feeling remained strong in San Francisco, not only among radicals such as the International Workers of the Worlds ("the Wobblies"), but also among responsible labor leaders. At the same time, with the rise of Bolshevism ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1916
  • San Francisco Chinese funeral /

    This film shows most of the ceremonial portion of the funeral procession of Tom Kim Yung (1858-1903), military attache to the Chinese Legation to the United States. The funeral procession took place at 1:00 pm on Wednesday, September 23, 1903, and was probably the largest ever seen in Chinatown. Tom's death (note that Tom is the family name) was the tragic consequence of a ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1903
  • Scene in Chinatown /

    This film was shot in an alley of San Francisco's Chinatown on Saturday, September 15, 1900, at midday. The topography of the site (sloping down to the far street), the width of the alley, the location of utility poles [Frame: 0255], and the location of buildings across the far street suggest that the view is north from Washington Street down Washington Place (today's Wentworth ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1903
  • San Francisco disaster /

    This film shows the partial burning of a small-scale model of downtown San Francisco in an early attempt at simulating the 1906 disaster. The model is seen in aerial view from above the South-of-Market district, looking northwest toward Market Street and the downtown area. Russian Hill (left) and Telegraph Hill (right) are shown in a painted background. The Call Building at 3rd and Market ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1906