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Film, Video The San Francisco disaster Formerly titled: Unidentified Staples & Charles. No. 1, San Francisco after the earthquake and fire of 1906 / Title in Lubin catalog 1907: San Francisco earthquake

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About this Item


  • The San Francisco disaster

Other Title

  • Formerly titled: Unidentified Staples & Charles. No. 1, San Francisco after the earthquake and fire of 1906
  • Title in Lubin catalog 1907: San Francisco earthquake


  • This film is made up of five panoramas, four wide and one close-up, of the ruins of downtown San Francisco shortly after the 1906 disaster, including a panorama and scene in a refugee camp. Note that the locations provided in the interior titles are incorrect for segments 1, 3, and 4.
  • "Panorama of City Hall from Top of U.S. Mint." This right-to-left (north-to-northwest) panorama of the ruined City Hall was actually filmed from the east side of 8th Street at Market Street. The principal features seen here are the Hall of Records, the east wing, Marshall Square with the Pioneer Monument in front of the ruined City Hall cupola (:50), the ruined southwest wing, and Market Street (1:00). Note the elaborate street lamp. Because City Hall stood back from Market Street on a parallel street, ruins can be seen in front of parts of City Hall.
  • "Panorama of Mission Street." This jerky segment is a right-to-left (northeast-to-west) panorama filmed from the north side of Mission Street between 6th and 7th streets, a block south of Market Street. The camera looks northeast down Mission Street. The twin chimneys of the U.S. Mint (one smoking) at 5th Street are at center right. Beyond them and in the center of the picture is the Call Building tower on Market Street. The Flood Building at Market and Powell streets is seen in the background. The ruins of the Hale Brothers Department Store rise in the background at Market and 6th streets. In the far distance at left is the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill. Note the steps in the foreground leading nowhere. The arch-windowed ruin on Jessie Street between Mission and Market streets is the Swedish Evangelical Mission Church (1:44 min.), founded in 1877 and built on this site circa 1900. The distant ruined tower of St. Boniface Church (1902) rises beyond the classic facade of the ruined Hibernia Bank (1892) at the intersection of McAllister, Jones, and Market streets. We see the north (Stevenson Street) wing of the U.S. Post Office (1905) at 7th and Mission streets, and a lower central part of the building behind a boundary wall.
  • "Panorama Market Street, San Francisco, from Top of U.S. Mint." This segment was actually filmed from the first floor of the ruined California Casket Company Building located on the south side of Mission Street between 5th and 6th Streets. The segment is a right-to-left (north-northwest-to-west) pan. At far right is the Flood Building, with the northwest corner of the Mint in the foreground (2:14 min.). At distant center is the Saint Francis Hotel on Powell Street and the Alexander Hotel behind it (left). The narrow tower at left is the Press Club Building on Ellis Street. Far beyond it on Nob Hill are the Flood mansion (left) and the Fairmont Hotel (right). Popular Zinkand's Cafe had occupied the ground floor of the building reduced to the dramatic brick spires seen here behind a foreground ruin (2:27 min.). The towers of ruined apartment buildings and hotels are seen along Turk Street across Market Street. Note the man searching through rubble in the foreground (2:28 min.) The ruins of Hale Brothers Department Store at Market and 6th Streets fill the screen. Stevenson Street is in the foreground. The ruins of St. Boniface Church are in the background. At right center are an east-wing tower of City Hall and the adjacent dome of the Hall of Records. The Grant Building at 7th and Market streets hides the City Hall cupola. At left is the U.S. Post Office at 7th Street. Close to the camera and at left is the cornice of the California Casket Company Building (3:30 min.).
  • "Panorama from Grand [i.e., Grant] Ave." This panorama was actually filmed on Market Street, near the intersection of Stockton and Ellis, almost a block southwest of Grant. The first part of the segment is a right-to-left (northeast-to-west) pan. The second part is a slow, close-up pan moving left-to-right, of a ruined lot on the west side of Stockton Street north of Ellis Street. Bicycle and pedestrian traffic on Market Street reflects the lack of public transportation before the restoration of streetcar service on May 1, 1906. The Call Building tower at 3rd and Market streets rises behind the Sorensen Jewelers Building. Beyond the Call Building are the Monadnock Building and the Palace Hotel. A film assistant directs pedestrians out of the camera view (3:54 min.). The Mutual Savings Bank at Market and Kearny Streets is seen. The view is of the rear wall of the elegant City of Paris Department Store. The unfinished frame of the Butler Building is seen along Stockton Street at Geary Street, across from the City of Paris building. The St. Francis Hotel and adjacent Alexander Hotel (left) rise in the background. Pedestrians are seen on Stockton Street and a work crew is busy in a lot across the street (6:05 min.). The camera points up Ellis Street. The Flood Building stands on the left at Powell Street. The pan then drifts back up to Stockton Street.
  • "Refugees in Jefferson Square." This segment gives an excellent view of the informal, egalitarian atmosphere of a typical San Francisco earthquake refugee camp in the weeks following the earthquake and fire. Jefferson Square is a public park at the edge of the burnt area, a few blocks northwest of the ruined City Hall. The pan was filmed from right-to-left (east-to-north) on the curving central path near the west side of the park. The fixed view section was probably filmed further east along the same path, looking east from near the center of the park. A couple are busy tightening the tent ropes (6:39 min.). Signs on a ramshackle structure suggest a possible public convenience. Small cooking grates line the path. Note the strong afternoon west wind blowing through the trees and the soldier with a cold (7:09 min.). A woman is seen cooking at her stove on the north side of the path. A doctor, carrying his bag, pauses to look back (7:45 min.). The woman with the polka dot blouse seems to be in charge of the grey tent at left, which may be a laundry. Note the homes on Eddy Street, north of the park, in the background. A man sits dozing, holding a newspaper; washing hangs on nearby makeshift clotheslines. (8:30 min.). The stationary view is of soldiers patrolling to keep order in a food line as approaching pedestrians dodge cooking grates on the path.


  • Frawley, Jack, 1866- cinematographer
  • S. Lubin (Firm : Philadelphia, Pa.) production company, film distributor

Created / Published

  • United States : S. Lubin, 1906.


  • -  City Hall (San Francisco, Calif. : 1897-1906)
  • -  Central Tower (San Francisco, Calif.)
  • -  Swedish Evangelical Mission Church (San Francisco, Calif.)
  • -  James R. Browning United States Courthouse (San Francisco, Calif.)
  • -  Flood Building (San Francisco, Calif.)
  • -  James Flood Mansion (San Francisco, Calif.)
  • -  San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, Calif., 1906
  • -  Buildings--Earthquake effects--California--San Francisco
  • -  Disaster relief--San Francisco--California
  • -  Pioneer Monument (San Francisco, Calif.)
  • -  Marshall Square (San Francisco, Calif.)
  • -  Mission Street (San Francisco, Calif.)
  • -  Market Street (San Francisco, Calif.)
  • -  Jefferson Square (San Francisco, Calif.)


  • Actualities (Motion pictures)
  • Silent films
  • Short films
  • Nonfiction films


  • -  H77924 U.S. Copyright Office
  • -  Copyright: S. Lubin; 9May1906; H77058.
  • -  Beginning and end titles lacking. Title from Copyright catalog, motion pictures, 1894-1912. Original interior titles precede each change of scene.
  • -  Duration: 8:00 min. at 15 fps.
  • -  Sources used: Lubin's films catalog. 1907, p. 135 viewed online May 17, 2021 at the New Jersey Digital Highway WWW site; Copyright catalog, motion pictures, 1894-1912, p. 53; Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum WWW site, viewed May 17, 2021: Lubin footage of post San Francisco earthquake, and historian David Kiehn's presentation, "Who filmed the 1906 earthquake aftermath?".
  • -  Camera, Jack Frawley.
  • -  Photographed: late April, 1906. Various locations in and near downtown San Francisco, California. The state of the ruins and camp suggest a date in late April, 1906. The absence of streetcar tracks in the "Grand Avenue" panorama dates that segment to before May 1, 1906.
  • -  Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as digital files.


  • 1 video file (digital) (8 min.) : si., b&w.

Source Collection

  • AFI/Staples (Robert) & Charles (Barbara) Collection (Library of Congress)


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

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 00694433

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.

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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:

Frawley, Jack, Cinematographer, and Film Distributor S. Lubin Production Company. The San Francisco disaster. United States: S. Lubin, 1906. Video.

APA citation style:

Frawley, J. & S. Lubin Production Company, F. D. (1906) The San Francisco disaster. United States: S. Lubin. [Video] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Frawley, Jack, Cinematographer, and Film Distributor S. Lubin Production Company. The San Francisco disaster. United States: S. Lubin, 1906. Video. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.