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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Arrest in Chinatown, San Francisco, Cal. /

    This film shows the arrest and conveyance of a Chinese man in Chinatown, watched by a crowd of onlookers. The precise date of this film and the arrest charge are uncertain. It is possible that the arrest was connected with the smuggling of illegal immigrants from China. By mutual agreement between China and the United States, a small quota of merchants and students was ...

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

    This collection consists of twenty-six films of San Francisco from before and after the Great Earthquake and Fire, 1897-1916. Seventeen of the films depict San Francisco and its environs before the 1906 disaster. Seven films describe the great earthquake and fire. The two later films include a 1915 travelogue that shows scenes of the rebuilt city and a tour of the Panama Pacific Exposition ...

    • Date: 1897
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Launch of Japanese man-of-war "Chitosa" [i.e., "Chitose"] /

    This film shows the launching of the Imperial Japanese Navy cruiser Chitose at the Union Iron Works shipyard, San Francisco, on Saturday, January 22, 1898. The camera view is east, across a small inlet of Central Basin, to slipway #1. Four additional slipways lay beyond to the west. The inlet and slipway remain today, now covered with chunks of abandoned piers, adjacent to the ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1898
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Panorama, Union Square, San Francisco /

    This film shows the crowd gathered in San Francisco for the dedication of the Dewey Monument in Union Square, on Thursday, May 14, 1903, from 9:00 a.m. to 9:20 a.m. The Monument, which is still in place, commemorates the victory of Admiral George Dewey and the American fleet over Spanish forces at Manila Bay, the Philippines, on May 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. ...

    • Original Format: Film, Video
    • Date: 1903
  • 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
  • The Paper Print Film Collection at the Library of Congress -- Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897-1916

    Most of the films featured in the American Memory presentations are from the Paper Print Collection of the Library of Congress Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division. Because the copyright law did not cover motion pictures until 1912, early film producers who desired protection for their work sent paper contact prints of their motion pictures to the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library ...

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

    Selected Annotated Bibliography General Beebe, Lucius, and Charles Clegg. San Francisco's Golden Era. Berkeley, CA: Howell-North Books, 1960. Excellent pictorial and graphic coverage of pre-1906 San Francisco. Cameron, Robert. Above San Francisco. San Francisco: Cameron and Company, 1986. One of a series, superb aerial coverage of San Francisco and the Bay Area, including "then and now" views. Dillon, Richard. San Francisco: Adventurers and Visionaries. ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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