MB and I got up this morning at 4am to attend the San Francisco Quake Centennial Memorial. It was 100 years ago today, at 5:12am, that San Francisco was jolted awake by a 300 mile rip of the San Andreas Fault. This morning was a bit rough, with the (loud) alarm clock and automatic coffee machine jolting me out of a groggy haze both times, but we were able to stumble out the front door despite our shaky legs and reached the event on time. It was a nice ceremony, centered around Lotta’s Fountain, one of the few structures to survive the earthquake and fire intact.
Mayor Gavin Newsom emcee’d, with several other government officials in attendance and speaking of the heroism of the emergency services departments. It frankly at times seemed like an ad for emergency services, instead of a celebration of the remarkable spirit of the people of San Francisco who stayed and rebuilt, but hey, that’s okay. The San Francisco Chronicle covered the event well. The most amusing part of the morning was during Newsom’s interviews with the eleven quake survivors in attendance. One remarkably lucid woman, when asked if she was cold, retorted “Not with Gavin Newsom here to keep me warm!”
It’s hard to imagine what the city was like 100 years ago today. Of course we have quite a few pictures that tell the tale, but when you’re standing on Market Street and looking around, there are no features that remind you of the earthquake and fire. Sure, there are a few buildings left which remained intact enough after the earthquake to rebuild, but the city today really doesn’t look much different than any other west coast city. No one would know the power of the earthquake if it weren’t for the pictures from 1906, the written histories, and the eleven old folks who came to the ceremony today to remind us all of the power of Nature.
Of course, after the speeches, after the moment of silence, after the thousands of attendees who were gathered together in common cause honored the human spirit, we all parted ways once again. Coffee was gulped, newspapers unfolded. The city took a deep breath and got on with another busy Tuesday. Just like any other.