Aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire -- Including Tent Encampments
Rare panoramic view from the Ferry Building, Market Street at the center with southern and northern points along East Street (The Embarcadero), immediately after the San Francisco Earthquake.
The image was taken by Arthur Pillsbury, who had, one month earlier, opened his own studio after working as a photojournalist with the San Francisco Examiner. Pillsbury was one of the first photographers to capture the carnage of the 1906 earthquake and fire and most prolific. His images, taken during and in the immediate aftermath of the conflagration, were widely distributed in 1906 to journalists throughout the United States and abroad.
The image shows smoldering remains of San Francisco on a grand panoramic scale, with several tent encampments shown adjacent to the waterfront, directly above the "East St. Looking North" label, stretching north for several blocks among the ruins.
The photograph is extremely rare. We locate only the examples in the Library of Congress and Bancroft Library.
This view (#231) would seem not to have survived in the Pillsbury Foundation Archive.
From the private collection of Charles A. Fracchia. Fracchia was a noted historian of California and San Francisco, a Fellow of the California Historical Society, the Founder and President Emeritus of the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society, and one of the founders of Rolling Stone magazine.
The Pillsbury Picture Company was originally founded in 1906, just one month before the catastrophic Earthquake and Fire in San Francisco.
Arthur C Pillsbury started the company in San Francisco, after working as a photojournalist with the San Francisco Examiner.
The company was headquartered at his home in Oakland. He had outfitted the house with a full array of photographic equipment and darkrooms, which saw intense use during the aftermath of the Earthquake and Fire.
On the morning of April 18th, Arthur C. Pillsbury was thrown out of bed in by the great quake. He immediately made his way to the City with both his graflax and his circuit panorama camera. There, he took images that went all over the world showing people every where what had happened to the City on the Hill. These pictures show the magnitude of the disaster.
Pillsbury would use the profit from his photographs to buy the Studio of the Three Arrows in Yosemite.
The Pillsbury Picture Company became the largest distributor of postcards on the West Coast for many years, introducing many innovations especially in products offered through the Studio of the Three Arrows in Yosemite. Eventually, the Pillsbury Picture Company also produced movies of very unusual kinds, including the first lapse-time motion pictures and the first microscopic motion pictures, x-ray motion pictures and underwater motion pictures as well as motion pictures of all kinds of natural life.
Pillsbury also invented a number of new cameras.