In 2010 I had an idea: What if I could precisely line up photos of the aftermath of San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake with my own and combine the two together? I followed through and published the first part of the series in 2010 with a follow up in 2012.
Prints are available here in sizes from 11×14 inches up to huge 20×30 inches. The “then” black and white portions of the prints come from ultra-high resolution scans of the original 1906 photos and look great in any size. I used Bay Photo (through Smugmug) to deliver the best quality prints in the world.
Along with my higher-quality photoblends, I’m telling the historically-accurate stories behind the pictures, taken from the thousands of pages of published detailed personal accounts of what was going on around the city at the time. I can’t tell these stories in an eight-second website attention span, so I’m taking the photos and their respective chronicles to your coffee table. Fade to 1906 takes a chronological journey through the tremors, three days of fire, and start of the city’s rush to rebuild. Each photo is accompanied by the “then” narrative followed by the “today” story of the same geographic spot. The book also explores:
- An air of nonchalance after the initial shake that metamorphosed into a nightmare of disbelief in the course of a day.
- Horrific seismic destruction as walls fall off the sides of buildings while the earth nearly swallows a four-story hotel whole.
- The political corruption of the time that symbolically came crashing down with city hall’s colossal collapse.
- San Franciscans’ sense of humor in the relief camps and street kitchens.
- The National Guard’s haphazard use of explosives to create firebreaks which ended up causing far more destruction and fires than were prevented.
- A looter executed by gunfire on New Montgomery Street.
- A toppled locomotive leaving Point Reyes Station for San Francisco moments after the quake struck.
- The frantic battle to save the US Mint that held fully one third of the nation’s wealth in gold.
- A proud people rising from the ashes of destruction with unbroken perseverance to rebuild a tattered city.
A sample from my book mockup
Fade to 1906 will feature:
- Coffee-table quality: a hefty hardback with heavy paper, at least 100 pages.
- MANY new images: Thanks to friends I’ve made along the way, I’ve secured rights to full-resolution scans of stunning 1906 photos I never knew existed.
- More Bay Area: including Oakland, Stanford, Redwood City, Petaluma, Point Reyes, and San Jose plus more San Francisco neighborhoods.
- Better photo detail: I’m starting with higher-quality (up to 1000 ppi) scans of the original photos and blending current photos more seamlessly than the first generation of the photos.
- Historically-accurate perspectives from 1906: I’m pouring through books published in 1906 and 1907 and finding some marvelous first-person narratives describing the scenes in the photos.
- Photo index: with maps of locations and historical details of each photo.