Please note our new address: 98 Bohemia Ave Suite 2  Chesapeake City, MD 21915
Phone 203-276-1570 / Fax 203-883-1483 / Email

Full Details for Lot 437

Previous LotNext Lot
Click to enlarge

Sale 38 Lot 437

SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKE EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT AND PHOTOGRAPHS A historic, eyewitness account of the San Francisco earthquake of April 18, 1906, commenced less than an hour after the quake hit at 5:15 A.M., and written over the following several days as the devastated city struggled to recover from multiple structure failures and the resulting fires. The account of the earthquake is accompanied by an album bearing 38 photographs taken by the author documenting the incredible destruction in San Francisco and neighboring San Jose. A note penned within the album identifies the photographer and author of the two letters ("Fritz"): "This book belonged to Fritz Foote the youngest of the Foote family. - Died about 1910 he was in school at Berkley and took these pictures following the Earthquake". Foote's first letter is 2pp. 4to., from Oakland, Apr. 18, 1906, in pencil to his mother and father who presumably were at their ranch in Lemon Grove. In part: "...At 5:15 this morning, it's now 6:10 A.M I was sleeping...when I thought I heard the alarm go off. I reached over to stop it & to my great surprise it was rolling from one side of the stand to the other...I looked out the time to see a few chimnies sway around & fall. The pictures & bed & dresser & chairs were dancing about the room & if I were subject to sea sickness good bye to the 4 bit meal I had last night...the shock lasted about 3 or 4 minutes...a house caught fire about 5 blocks off...there was no water when the fire dept. arrived. The dresser in my room just walked out to the bed...a picture on the wall turned around with its face to the wall [due to aftershocks].... The water in the box of the toilette splashed out on the ceiling...". The following day Foote writes a second letter home, 7pp. 4to., also in pencil. In part: "...I have seen the most awful sights...I went over on a Western Pacific tug early this morning...Gen. Funston has ordered the ferries to bring no one over...Launches charge $10 a passenger...fully 2/3 of San Francisco was in ruins. The streets have great cracks in them & the car tracks are twisted...The flames are spreading in all directions...streets we walked on this morning were a mass of ruins & flames when we returned...The fire is now consuming the fine residences on Knob Hill. The Hopkins Art Institute is destroyed...The new Post Office is destroyed & the fire was raging all around the Fairmount hotel...The new Flood building fell with the shock with the exception of the frame work...The entire downtown section is in ruins! They are destroying buildings with dynamite continually. Gov't launches are kept busy bringing explosives from the magazines. There are regular soldiers everywhere...between 15 & 20 have been killed (shot) for looting & not obeying a halt order...San Jose is a mass of ruins...the killed [there] number about 20...The window has rattled three times since I've been writing...showing the rapidity of dynamiting in the city. The pall of smoke...hangs over the city like a shroud & at night it is a pillar of fire...the beautiful city I left about midnight Tuesday is now a shapeless & almost streetless conglomeration. The saddest part of it all is the suffering of the people. Every ferry brings its full load of 4,000 people...They crowd all the parks & roam the parks...". Foote then describes how he assisted a young mother and her children to escape the city, helping them make their way through the cluttered streets and "the chinese and others" to a ferry ticket window. He then continues with his description of the ruined region: "...Agnew's Asylum is wrecked...Santa Rosa is destroyed...They are blasting continuously in the city now, a report about every minute. I don't think they can stop the flames...There can be no accurate estimate as to the dead...I saw the dead being buried in the lawns on Knob Hill...Nearly all the wharves & warehouses on the waterfront were wrecked. The Mechanics Pavillion was filled with dead & wounded when it took fire...It is now 7:30 & there are two pillars of fire across the bay...". Both letters are very good. Foote's photo album opens with family photos from Chula Vista and Lemon Grove. There follows five approx. 4" x 6" photos of the main street, a church, the high school and a hotel in San Jose which all lie in ruins. The balance of the 33 4" x 2 3/4" photographs show various scenes and structures from throughout San Francisco, including City Hall, the Mission District, Stockton Street, the Mechanics Pavillion, various hotels and landmarks, and so on. The balance of the album shows more family vignettes, scenes of their ranch, and so on. Overall fine condition. Frankly, this is the finest San Francisco Earthquake grouping we have seen offered anywhere - an on-the-spot account of the destruction of the city, with unpublished photographs documenting the disaster!
Estimate $ 4,000-5,000

Back    Inquiry   

© Alexander Historical Auctions.  Images, descriptions and condition reports used on this site are original copyright material and are not to be reproduced without permission. For further information telephone (203) 276-1570

Copyright © 2018 Alexander Historical Auctions, LLC - All rights reserved. | Site Map | Legal | Privacy Policy