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The San Francisco Morning Call
October 22, 1868

Yesterday morning San Francisco was visited by the most severe earthquake the city ever experienced. The great shock commenced at 7:53 A.M. and continued nearly one minute, being the longest ever known in this region. The oscillations were from east to west, and were very violent. Men, women, and children rushed into the streets—some in a state of semi-nudity—and all in the wildest state of excitement. Many acted as if they though the Day of Judgment had come. for a time the excitement was intense, and the panic was general.

A hazy atmosphere pervaded the city, though it was clear and warm for two or three days previous. The weather was temperate–the thermometer being at about fifty-nine degrees. Probably one-third of the people of the city were in their beds, and the remainder were engaged in their morning duties. The shock came upon them with surprising suddenness, and was fearful in its results. The streets were full of excited people all day. Business was generally suspended, and crowds of women and children occupied the public plazas, some of them up to a late hour last night. A full and correct account, by our Reporters, of the events in this city and adjoining counties will be found below:


The damage on Stockton street, as a whole, did not amount to a great deal, although in one or two places considerable loss was sustained. One of the spires—the centre one—of the Jewish Synagogue between Broadway and Vallejo street, was thrown down. The upper portion of the rear wall was also knocked down, and the plastering shaken off and the walls cracked in several places. The damage will amount to about $400. The buildings on this street, between Broadway and the Bay, were very slightly injured. The plastering was cracked in a number of them, and windows smashed to pieces, but $500 will cover the entire loss.

The building on the northwesterly corner of Broadway and Stockton street, occupied by the drug store of Mr. W. Pickering, and the office of Dr. R. Beverly Cole, were very badly shattered. The drugs and glass bottles in the store were thrown together in a perfect jumble, and broken into thousands of pieces. Mr. Pickering’s loss will be about $1,000, perhaps more than that sum. In Dr. Cole’s house the damage was very great. Several very fine statuettes, purchased by the Doctor during his visit to Europe several years ago, at great cost, were thrown down and destroyed. A large quantity of costly glassware was broken, his furniture was damaged and his entire house put into an uproar. His damages will be in the neighborhood of $5,000. The building was also considerably damaged, and will cost in the neighborhood of $1,000 to repair it.

The building occupied by A. Lendhardt, carpet dealer, at No. 1232 Stockton street, was considerably wrecked—the front wall was torn off from the side walls five or six inches, and great fears were entertained that it would fall. The sidewalk in front of it was immediately fenced in, and persons prevented from passing. The damage to the building will reach $500. The upper portion was occupied by a family. The inmates of the house sustained but little loss, and $100 will probably cover it. The remainder of the buildings in this neighborhood escaped with no greater damage than the cracking of plastering, and the breaking of a few panes of glass. The buildings on this street, between Pacific and Market, were very slightly injured, and the entire damage will not exceed $1,000.


This street sustained very little damage west of Stockton, or, indeed, in any part of it. The buildings west of Stockton withstood the successive shocks, and sustained little or no damage at all, the greatest being the knocking off of plastering, or the cracking of it. Between Stockton street and the Bay, the damage was greater.

The building on the southwestern corner of Dupont [Grant Ave.] and Pacific, occupied as a lodging house in the upper portion, and by a drug store, butcher shop, a boot and shoe store, two restaurants, a grocery store, and the American Bakery, on the ground floor, was cracked in several places, and in one part the rear wall opened some two or three inches. The windows in the Bakery were smashed to pieces. One of the bakers, in getting out of the house, was struck in the leg by a falling brick, but, fortunately, was only slightly injured. Bottles in the drug store and grocery were knocked down and broken, and the furniture in the upper portion of the building damaged to a slight degree. The entire damage to the building and the inmates, will not exceed $500.

Between Dupont street and the Bay, several houses were slightly injured. In some instances the walls were cracked, and in other the plastering cracked and knocked down, but the entire damage will not exceed $1,000.


The damage in the Chinese quarter bounded by Kearny and Stockton, Washington and Pacific, is considerable. In an alley leading off Dupont street, between Jackson and Pacific, the fire-wall of a brick building fell upon a small frame shanty, smashing it to pieces and breaking the furniture into splinters. The inmates ran into the alley, and, with one exception, escaped without injury—this exception was a Chinese woman, who was struck on the head with a piece of falling timber and pretty badly cut, but not dangerously. The side of a brick house in the same neighborhood was bulged out to such an extent that it had to be shored up to prevent it from falling. It will have to be taken down. In an alley leading off Jackson street, the fire-wall of a building fell and knocked down a balcony, but did no other injury. In one or two other places fire-walls were shaken down, but as a general thing the Chinese suffered very little, and $1,000 will cover the loss sustained by all of them.


This street suffered very severely, quite a number of buildings being more or less damaged. The buildings between Washington street and Telegraph Hill suffered very little, but south of Washington street, the damage in some places was severe. Messrs. Hayes & Lawton, importers and dealers in crockery and glassware, at the corner of Sansome and Merchant streets, sustained a loss of about $100, by breaking of stock which was thrown down.

The fire-wall of the building on the southwestern corner of Merchant and Sansome streets, occupied by Deffebach & Co., printers, was tumbled down, and the walls slightly cracked in one or two places. The building on the northeastern corner of Clay and Sansome streets, occupied by George W. Clark, wall-paper dealer, was slightly damaged. The building on the opposite corner, occupied by a grocery store and the Empire Restaurant on the ground floor, and by Kohler’s musical and toy depot in the second floor, and to which they have just been adding a third story, was shaken up in a very lively manner. The fire-wall along Sansome street came down with a tremendous crash. The windows of the restaurant were smashed to pieces, and a large number of persons who were in it eating their breakfast, rushed into the street in great dismay. Mr. Blumenthal, the proprietor of the restaurant, and two other men—one of them a waiter in the establishment—were very severely injured , and the probabilities are that one of them at least will die from the effects of his injuries.

On the opposite corner, in the building occupied by the drug store of C.F. Richards & Co., the shock was felt in full force. The bottles and cases were hurled upon the floor in wild confusion, many of them being broken and their contents poured out. This firm will sustain a loss of about $500. Simon Levy, the proprietor of a cigar store in the same building, sustains a loss of between $100 and $200. The drug store of Shepardson & Gates, in the same building, but in the corner fronting on Sansome and Commercial streets was damaged to the extent of $600 or $800 by having their glass jars smashed.

The building on the northwestern corner of Sacramento and Sansome streets was slightly cracked in several places. That portion of the American Theatre building not destroyed by the recent fire, was considerably racked, and a portion of the walls knocked down. The saloon called “The Hole in the Wall” was damaged to a slight extent, the awning in front of it being smashed, and the debris scattered about the entrance.

The bank of California, on the corner of Sansome and California streets, was shaken to a degree that caused considerable apprehension at one time, but fortunately the damage was not near so great as was supposed. The top of the building was considerably jarred, and some of the stones moved out of their places. The building is a very costly one, and it is estimated that it will cost $10,000 to put it in as good condition as it was before the shock. From California street to Market, on Sansome, the damage was very slight; in fact, with the exception of a few broken windows, nothing has come to our knowledge.


The damage on this street was not severe except in one or two places. C. Paturel, dealer in perfumes, opposite the Plaza, lost a few bottles, and had his windows smashed. The windows in Gros’s drug store were broken. The drug store of McBoyle & Co., in the Government Building, was badly wrecked. The shelving was thrown down, and damage to the extent of $2,500 done. The Government building was also damaged, some of the joists being drawn out of their places. It is thought the damage will not exceed $1,500.

The building on the southeastern corner of Battery and Washington streets, occupied by Delapaine & Co., wholesale grocers, and Stone & Hayden’s saddle and harness manufactory, was slightly damaged. The fire-wall fell, and the chimneys were shattered to pieces. Mr. Peter Alfritz of the firm of Delapaine & Co., was struck on the foot by a falling brick, while he was making his escape from the building. Fortunately he sustained no injury. The remainder of the damage does not amount to enough to particularize.


The buildings west of Montgomery street, on Clay street, sustained very little damage, broken window-glass, falling plastering, and a few chimneys tumbled down comprising the sum total. But east of Montgomery, upon that portion which has been reclaimed from the Bay and is called “new-made ground” the damage was considerable. The fire-wall of McAllister’s building, between Montgomery and Sansome, was wrenched from its position, and fell to the pavement below, and in its fall struck a wooden awning, carrying it along. A lady passing at the time, was stricken down, and one of her legs broken above the ankle. She was conveyed to Steele’s drug store, on Montgomery street, where her injuries were dressed by a surgeon, and she was removed to her home.

The buildings from Leidesdorff street to Battery street were but slightly damaged, with the exception of the California Wire Works building, and that occupied by the Scientific American and Mining Press office. The fire-walls of these buildings fell with a terrible crash, burying beneath them a Chinaman named King Young, aged forty years, and an American named William Strong. Both of those men were instantly killed. Mr. Strong was in the Mining Press office at the time the first shock began, and immediately rushed out to escape the impending danger. He made good his escape from the building, but was killed on the sidewalk, while those who remained in the house escaped.

The cigar and tobacco warehouse of A.S. Rosenbaum, at No. 323 Clay street, and the Railroad House, adjoining, occupied by S.P. Taylor, paper dealer, were very extensively damaged. In fact, the Clay-street ends of these buildings are completely wrecked, and will have to be torn down and rebuilt. The loss will probably reach $25,000. The walls have tumbled in, the floors fallen into the cellar, the foundations given way, and the entire scene is one of dilapidation. From this point to the wharf, the damage is not great.


A gentlemen who was on Clay-street wharf at the time, and whose business is connected with the wharf, informs us that the scene from where he stood was grandly terrible. The ships alongside the wharves swayed to and fro like they do when in the trough of the sea, with the waves rolling mountain high. The wharves shook and trembled with great force; piles of wheat and bricks were thrown down, and in some instances into the Bay. The horses in the drays and trucks became panic-stricken, and reared and plunged in mad fury. But during all this time, while everything on shore was trembling with terror, the waters of the Bay were as placid as upon the calmest Summer’s day. The damage on the wharf does not amount to a great deal.


The damage on this street was mostly confined to that portion situated upon the “reclaimed ground.” The clothing manufactory of S. Reinstein, at No. 314 California street, was badly injured, the foundation having sunk sixteen or eighteen inches. The building is a brick one, and will probably have to be rebuilt. The carriage depot of O.F. Willey, adjoining, was also considerably damaged—probably to the extent of $1,500. This is a wooden building, and can be repaired. Photo of the 1868 San Francisco EarthquakeUpon the opposite site of the street, the building occupied by the Pacific Pump Manufacturing Company and the one-story building adjoining, formerly used as an auction house, but now unoccupied, we believe, are totally wrecked; the walls are down, the roof in, and the floors out of position. The front portion of the buildings will have to be rebuilt, but the rear portion is only slightly damaged. There were several other buildings on this street more or less damaged, generally, however, by the falling of fire-walls.


On this street, between Montgomery and Sansome, the injury to buildings is pretty severe. The plastering in the building occupied by Donahoe’s Bank was cracked in several places. The adjoining building also suffered in the same way. No. 513, occupied by John G. Hodge & Co., stationers, George W. Stevens, printer, J. Levin, John Gilmore, tobacconists, and others was pretty roughly handled, several large openings being made in the wall. On the opposite side of the street was the old Knickerbocker Engine House, now occupied by A.J. Plate, dealer in firearms. This building settled some ten or twelve inches, but sustained no other damage. The adjoining building, occupied by Black, Robbins & Co., paper dealers, Wigmore’s furniture depot, and Turnbull & Smith’s job printing office, were also damaged in a similar manner. The inmates, however, suffered very little damage. Several other buildings on this street were considerably injured, particularly those nearer the Bay. The bakery of Deeth & Starr is very badly wrecked, and Mr. Deeth informs us that he does not think it can be repaired. This firm loses about $2,500 in damage to ovens, stock, etc.


The wreck on this street, in some localities, is complete. The lumber yard of Blythe & Wetherbee was a scene of confusion, owing to the knocking down of the lumber piles, but fortunately, very little real damage resulted. In the box manufactory of Hobbs & Gillmore, damage to the extend of $500 or $1,000 resulted from the falling of a chimney leading from the furnace which drives the engine. This chimney, in the fall, carried about twenty feet square of the roof of the building. Two or three men were at work under this portion of the roof, but escaped uninjured. There are some two or three hundred persons engaged at work in this establishment, and every one of them rushed in great fright to escape from the building. In this wild scramble, one of the men—F. Seaver by name—fell over a pile of lumber which had been thrown down, and sustained a fracture of the left arm. The Santa Cruz lime and fire-brick depot of Samuel Adams sustained slight damage. The bricks were knocked down, and many of them broken.

The building in the course of construction by Messrs. Coffee & Risdon, and the old building occupied by this firm, were both totally demolished. There were several persons at work in these buildings, and some of them were seriously injured. The particulars are given under the head of casualties. This new building was a flimsy affair, and we are not surprised at its falling. The ground in this vicinity sunk a couple of feet, and at one place near by opened several inches, to a depth of many feet. Several buildings in the vicinity were more or less damaged. The next serious loss on this street was the drug store of George S. Dickey, where glassware, etc. to the value of $300 or $400 was damaged.


The new building in the course of erection by Messrs. Wilson & Doble was slightly damaged. The top portion of the walls tumbled down, and the foundation was somewhat shattered. the heavy sign on the top of the Pacific Saw Manufacturing Company’s works was thrown into the street and smashed to pieces. The damage to this establishment did not amount to anything. The brass foundry of Wm. T. Garrett sustained damaged to the extent of $500 by the destruction of furnaces and chimneys and the shifting of machinery. The other damages on this street, except those to the Gas Works, mentioned elsewhere, were slight.


These mills are situated on the southeasterly corner of Mission and Fremont streets, and suffered very severely, being damaged to the extent of between $10,000 and $15,000. The street in front of them sunk two or three feet. The buildings are considerably wrecked, particularly that one used as a storage room for mouldings. Several of the men, in escaping from this building, were slightly injured.


The Union Foundry, owned by Booth & Co., was extensively damaged, some of the inner walls being badly cracked, and one of the machine shops smashed out of shape. A piece of ground in the centre of the building, upon which was piled a quantity of pig iron, sunk down several feet, throwing the iron against the wall of one of the shops, and smashing things very generally, causing damage to the extent of several thousand dollars. There were a large number of men employed in the foundry, but all escaped without injury, with one or two exceptions.


The damage at the Gas Works will reach $10,000 or $12,000. The walls of their coal shed, on the corner of Fremont and Howard streets, were damaged so badly that three of them will have to be taken down. In one place, about thirty feet of the side wall shot into the street. The walls of an adjoining shed were also wrecked so badly that they will have to be partly torn down and rebuilt. In the Gas Works proper, the chimney topped over, doing considerable damage as it fell. One of the main condenser connections was broken, causing a temporary suspension of the Howard-street Works, as it will require several days for the necessary repairs to be made.


The damage to the upper portion of the Custom House building is very severe. The inside walls are opened in several places to the extent of two or three inches. Indeed so fearful are those whose duty it is to look after the customs, that they have removed to the apartments occupied by the Internal Revenue Department, and will remain there until after their building has been thoroughly repaired. The Post Office, which is in the same building, was closed during the day, only a few persons remaining on duty for the purpose of making up and dispatching the mails.


This place is very badly damaged—in fact, to such a degree that all public business was suspended, and it is doubtful whether any of the Judges will consent to resume their Courts in the Court rooms allotted to them. The front of the building looks like a dilapidated ruin. Some of the stones are out of place, and apparently held only by their weight, while the inner walls are cracked and opened in many places. The Probate Court room and the Twelfth District Court are badly torn up, while the upper story is almost beyond repair. Some of those who are experts in such matters are of the opinion that the building can be saved, but others think it will have to be taken down to the second story, and others, still, that it will have to be abandoned altogether.

When the shocks were taking place, the prisoners confined in the Calaboose were in the wildest state of alarm. They could not escape, and fearing that the entire building was coming down, their cries were very painful. Judge Provines called his court to order at the regular hour, but immediately adjourned after liberating all those imprisoned for drunkenness, and ordering Captain McElory to convey the others to the County Jail, which had sustained no damage.


The City and County Hospital was very much shaken. The eastern wall was cracked in several places, as also was the rear wall. A panic almost occurred among such patients as were able to move about, but it was prevented through the exertions of some of the nurses, who had to use strenuous efforts to prevent patients from rushing madly down the stairs. By so doing, it is probably that several lives were saved. The Marine Hospital, at Rincon Point, was so much damaged that it is considered unsafe, and the patients were removed to a place of safety.


The damage done to the Mission Woollen Mills consists mainly of a partial giving way of the floor in the main building, thereby unsettling the shafting and a portion of the machinery on the second floor. The rear portion of the boiler-house settled some, but no damage was done to any of the machinery beyond placing it out of gear. It will probably require a couple of weeks to make all necessary repairs. Nobody was injured. Work was immediately discontinued.

The upper portion of the southern wall of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum building, on Fifteenth street, was thrown down. A portion of the wall fell into the girls’ wash-room, while the remainder fell into the yard. The inmates had a fortunate escape, for less than five minutes before the fall, all the girls were in the room, engaged in their toilets.

[Fire Engine] Seven’s engine house on Sixteenth street was considerably damaged. At the Pacific Tannery, on Folsom street, a panic occurred among the workmen, and several were slightly injured in their attempts to escape from the building. Nearly all the buildings in this portion of the city were badly shaken, and more or less damaged.


The New York Crockery Store, on Kearny street, near Sutter, sustained damages to the extent of $500 or $600.

Dr. Jordan sustained losses to the amount of $1,500 by breakage to furniture in his dwelling-house.

The Type Depot of Thomas Cash, on the corner of Leidesdorff and Clay, was completely destroyed—that is, the type was thrown into a confused mass on the floor, and he will have to convert it all into type metal, as it would cost more than it is worth to assort it. His loss will reach $5,000.

The crockery store of R.A. Swain & Co., on the northeast corner of Sansome and Pine streets was damaged, by breakage, to the extent of several hundred dollars.

The buildings owned by Michael Reese, on Battery street, between Pine and California streets, were damaged to the extent of several thousand dollars, by the settling of the foundation.

A brick building, built in 1852, on Natoma street, which has withstood all the previous shocks, was nearly totally destroyed. It was occupied by Charles Moneypenny, as a boarding house.

The house of John Farmer, at No. 144 Natoma street, was badly cracked, and the furniture in the house smashed to pieces.

The building occupied by the Squarza Saloon, on Leidesdorff street, is badly cracked.

The rear walls of the What Cheer House are also cracked in several places.

The rear wall of Liddle & Kaedling’s gun shop, on Washington street, was partially thrown down.

A large plate-glass in the Hibernia Bank was broken to pieces.

The panic was so great that the various teachers, acting under instructions by Superintendent Denman, dismissed the Public Schools, and permitted the children to go home. We are glad to be able to contradict all the reports of destruction to school property. None of the school-houses were damaged to any degree, a few chimneys being thrown down, and several windows broken.

The large brick building on the northwest corner of Jackson and Kearny streets, recently erected, and known as “Rose’s Hotel,” was cracked in several places.

A small brick building, No. 912 Kearny street, was so much broken up that the sidewalk in front of it had to be barricaded.

The Engine House on Broadway, above Dupont, was fissured in several places.

The two large brick buildings on Broadway street, between Dupont and Stockton, known as “Palm’s House,” and “Broadway House,”were considerably damaged. Both houses were filled with lodgers. They became seized with the idea that the buildings were insecure, and in the afternoon commenced removing their furniture and other articles to other quarters.

The fire-wall of the New Orleans Warehouse, fronting on California street, fell, and went through the sidewalk.

In an empty lot on California street, below Davis, water was forced up through the ground to the height of two feet.

At No. 314 Sacramento street, the roof of the building fell in. It was occupied by C.P. Rank, dealer in hosiery and fancy goods. The building next adjoining, occupied by the Pioneer Woollen Factory, settled nearly a foot.

In the store of L. Feldman, No. 315 Sacramento street, a large quantity of fine ware was thrown to the floor, and damaged.

On Front street, the front of the brick store, No. 212, occupied by H. Brickwedel, was so badly cracked that it will have to be taken down.

The fire-wall of DeWitt, Kittle & Co’s building, corner of California and Front streets, was thrown down.

Corner of Front and Richmond streets, the large brick building occupied by Castle Brothers was very much shaken. The parapet wall, the entire length of the house on Richmond street, was thrown down.

The front of the Albany Brewery, on Everett street, near Fourth, was detached from the main portion of the building and will have to come down.

The French Hospital, on Bryant street, was cracked in several places, but no danger is entertained for the safety of the building.

A part of the large chimney at the San Francisco and Pacific Sugar Refinery was broken off and fell to the ground. A number of the workmen were on the point of going out of the building and into the yard through a door when the chimney fell.

Wm. Crosbie’s brick house, No. 56 First street, was so extensively damaged that barricades had to be kept up during the day to warn pedestrians of the danger.

On Market street, above Front, a portion of the street—nearly half a block—opened to the width of four inches.

Popper’s building, corner of Third and Mission, which was so much damaged during the earthquake of October 18th, 1865, remained all “O.K” during the first shock, at eight o’clock, but the second shock brought down several of the cornices.

The fire-wall of the brick building on the northwest corner of Third and Mission fell.


The lengthy report of the calamitous event which occurred in this city yesterday, published in THE CALL this morning, has been collected by faithful and reliable reporters, who speak from personal observation. It will be found nearly correct in detail.

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