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Film, Video San Francisco's future

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  • 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 and labor unrest, San Francisco's business community was nervous. The Chamber of Commerce organized a Law and Order Committee, despite the diminishing influence and political clout of local labor organizations. Radical labor was a small but vociferous minority which few took seriously. Violence, however, was imminent. The huge Preparedness Day parade of Saturday, July 22, 1916, was the target date. A radical pamphlet of mid-July read in part, "We are going to use a little direct action on the 22nd to show that militarism can't be forced on us and our children without a violent protest." At 2:06pm, about half an hour into the parade, a bomb exploded on the west side of Steuart Street, just south of Market Street, near the Ferry Building. The bomb was concealed in a suitcase; ten bystanders were killed and forty wounded in the worst terrorist act in San Francisco history. San Francisco screamed with anger and outrage. Two known radical labor leaders -- Thomas Mooney (ca. 1882-1942) and his assistant, Warren K. Billings (1893-1972) -- were arrested. In a hasty and bungled trial carried out in a lynch-mob atmosphere that included several false witnesses, the two were convicted. Mooney was sentenced to be executed, but a Mediation Commission set up by President Wilson found no clear evidence of his guilt. In 1918 Mooney's sentence was changed to life imprisonment, the same as Billings's. By 1939, evidence of perjury and false testimony at the trial had become overwhelming. Governor Culbert Olson pardoned both men. The identity of the bomber will probably never be known. The San Francisco Preparedness Day parade of 1916 was perhaps the largest parade ever held in the city. The 3.5 hour procession had 51,329 marchers, including 2,134 organizations and 52 bands. Ironically, the starting signals were "the crash of a bomb and the shriek of a siren." Military, civic, judicial, state, and municipal divisions were followed by newspaper, telephone, telegraph and streetcar unions. Many of the following divisions came from other cities of the Bay Area. This film, with its animated propagandistic prologue, was made shortly after the bombing and was clearly aimed at local audiences. Perhaps it was thought that the film might help to "flush out" the bomber. The Hearst-Pathe film of the bombing scene was filmed after most of the bodies had been removed.
  • The following is a scene-by-scene description of the film: [0294 (part 1)] In a primitive animated sequence the sun rises (in the west!) behind San Francisco as viewed from the bay, with the words "Wake up San Francisco." Recognizable buildings left of the central Ferry Building include the Call and Hobart buildings and the square Southern Pacific Building (1916). On Nob Hill to the right is the Fairmont Hotel. Note the ferries at the piers. [1120 (part 1)] Intertitle: "Shall we have this." A classical female figure, Prosperity, drops currency over the city. [1516 (part 1)] Intertitle: "Or shall it be this." Storm clouds blow north (right) across the city and the words "Anarchy, Sedition, Lawlessness" appear in them. [2407 (part 1)] In an animated sequence, a secret International Workers of the World meeting is depicted. As an assistant checks the peephole of the headquarters, the leader bangs the table with his fist as he plans the bombing with his lieutenants. Note the bomb, bottle, and gun on the table. [2810 (part 1)] In another animated sequence, a bomb is seen at the front steps of the Hall of Justice. The fuse burns down and the hall is destroyed by the explosion. The scene is imaginary but suggests a future bombing. [3237 (part 1)] In the last animated sequence, Justice (left) faces Anarchy with the word "Choose!" between them. Justice is blindfolded, and holds a scale and sword; the anarchist holds a bomb and tramples on a bloody newspaper, probably recounting the parade bombing. [3454 (part 1)] Intertitle: "The warning signal sounded on Preparedness Day Parade, July 22, 1916." The camera looks down on a civilian division of the parade from the Call Building at 3rd and Market streets. The view is northeast toward Kearny Street. The Chronicle Building is at the top, the Hearst Building at lower right, and the Mutual Savings Bank at left. [4037 (part 1)] A view of the parade further northeast, probably from the Montague Building at 2nd and Market streets. The view is northeast toward Sansome Street. U.S. Army troops are seen marching in formation. [4242 (part 1)] This similar view, much higher, was probably shot from the Balboa Building near 2nd Street at Market and captures the north side of Market Street from Sansome Street to the Ferry Building. The civilian division shown includes a row of women. [4625 (part 1)] Phoebe Apperson Hearst, marshall of the Women's Board division, is prodded to raise her flag and proceed. Mrs. Hearst (1842-1919), widow of Senator George Hearst and mother of William Randolph Hearst, was a major patron of the arts in San Francisco, including the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, and a major benefactor of the University of California. At 2:40pm, she led the women's parade, 37 companies of loyal society women. The location of the Market Street view is unclear. [4876 (part 1)] Miss Claire Rodiester, as the goddess of Liberty accompanied by her children, raises her lamp and marches on. The women following her may be members of the Army Nurse Corps. The location is probably on Market Street near 7th or 8th streets. [5135 (part 1)] Mayor James Rolph reviews the parade from the reviewing stand. Popular "Sunny Jim" Rolph (mayor, 1911-30) headed a somewhat corrupt administration that built many of San Francisco's fine post-earthquake civic buildings. He was governor of California 1931-34. The view is east from Hyde and Market streets at Marshall Square. Note the advertising posters on the fence of an undeveloped lot east of 8th Street. [5373 (part 1)] The mayor waves his flag and acknowledges the passing parade, while surrounded by city officials. The dome of the pre-1906 Hall of Records is seen behind them (it was demolished in 1916). [5580 (part 1)] Soldiers lead contingents of workers. The view is north across Market Street, somewhere in the downtown area. [6013 (part 1)] This is a fine view down Market Street of the U.S. Army parade. The view is northeast from the Sorensen Building (?) just west of the Call Building (seen at right). [0102 (part 2)] Intertitle: "Is your boy or your neighbor's boy in this group." The title emphasizes patriotism among youth. A procession of union workers is seen, grouped by trade. The view is east from the southwest corner of 8th and Market streets. Part of the reviewing stand is visible across Market Street, and the tower of St. Boniface's Church is in the background. [0632 (part 2)] A slow pan to the right shows more workers passing at the same site. [0968 (part 2)] Looking northeast from Grant Avenue and Market Street, the camera shows U.S. Army soldiers -- "the Liberty Boys" -- probably from the Monterey training camp (later Fort Ord). The national and regimental flags precede the troops. [1233 (part 2)] Intertitle: "Were you one of the crowd that cheered the Liberty Boys." [1528 (part 2)] A large crowd gathers behind lines of soldiers (left) to watch the parade. A likely location is Civic Center plaza, a block west of the reviewing stand. The view may be west on Grove Street. [1990 (part 2)] Intertitle: "10 killed, 60 wounded-in bomb explosion in Market Street. The following pictures were taken by the Hearst-Pathe News Service, a few minutes after the bomb explosion at Stewart and Market Streets." (For "Stewart" read "Steuart;" the official number of wounded was forty.) [2610 (part 2)] The bombing site is seen after most of the bodies have been removed. The view is west on Steuart Street just south of the Market Street intersection. [2767 (part 2)] The view is south on Steuart Street from Market Street. A body and a wounded man are loaded into a police [?] van. [2793 (part 2)] A man is seen carrying a dazed or wounded child. [3005 (part 2)] There is a closeup view of the rear of the van, with attendant and body. [3207 (part 2)] A view of the two bodies remaining at the bombing site. [3463 (part 2)] This view north to Market Street shows the general confusion on Steuart Street. A body is loaded into the van. [3587 (part 2)] Detectives check the two remaining bodies for identification. The view is south on Steuart Street. [3891 (part 2)] Intertitle: "Citizens of San Francisco, save our city from further disgrace."


  • Hearst, Phoebe Apperson, 1842-1919
  • Rodiester, Claire
  • Rolph, James, 1869-1934
  • AFI/Post (George) Collection (Library of Congress)

Created / Published

  • [United States : s.n., 1916?].


  • -  Hearst, Phoebe Apperson,--1842-1919
  • -  Rolph, James,--1869-1934
  • -  Industrial Workers of the World--History--20th Century
  • -  United States.--Army--Recruiting, enlistment, etc.--World War, 1914-1918
  • -  Bombings--California--San Francisco
  • -  World War, 1914-1918--United States--Public opinion
  • -  World War, 1914-1918--United States--Propaganda
  • -  Propaganda, Capitalist--United States--California
  • -  Terrorism--California--San Francisco
  • -  Anarchists--Drama
  • -  Parades--California--San Francisco
  • -  San Francisco (Calif.)--History--20th century


  • Newsreel--Excerpt
  • Actualities (Motion pictures)
  • Short films
  • Nonfiction films
  • Live action/animation films
  • Film excerpts


  • -  Copyright: no reg.
  • -  Duration: 3:27 (part 1) and 2:13 (part 2) at 15 fps.
  • -  Location: San Francisco, California.
  • -  Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as digital files.
  • -  35 mm. dupe neg. renumbered: FPA 5377 to FZA 0110.


  • 1 reel (320 ft) : si., b&w ; 35 mm. ref print.
  • 1 reel (320 ft) : si., b&w ; 35 mm. dupe neg.

Call Number/Physical Location

  • FEA 5092 (ref print)
  • FZA 0110 (dupe neg)


  • Library of Congress Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA dcu

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 00694431

Online Format

  • image
  • video

Additional Metadata Formats

Rights & Access

The contents of the Library of Congress Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897 to 1916 Collection are in the public domain and are free to use and reuse.

Credit Line: Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division, Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897 to 1916 Collection.

More about Copyright and other Restrictions

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Hearst, Phoebe Apperson, Claire Rodiester, James Rolph, and Afi/Post. San Francisco's future. [United States: s.n., ?, 1916] Video.

APA citation style:

Hearst, P. A., Rodiester, C., Rolph, J. & Afi/Post. (1916) San Francisco's future. [United States: s.n., ?] [Video] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Hearst, Phoebe Apperson, et al. San Francisco's future. [United States: s.n., ?, 1916] Video. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.