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[Detail] A trip down Market Street before the fire [production company unknown].

Great Earthquake and Fire: San Francisco, 1897-1916, contains twenty-six films depicting life in San Francisco before, during, and after the great earthquake of 1906. By the turn of the century, San Francisco had been transformed from a lawless frontier town to a major American city. With a population of over 342,000 in 1900, it was the ninth largest city in the nation. The films in this archive offer a fresh perspective on the emergence of modern America in the early 1900s, a theme which traditionally focuses on the effects of rapid urban growth in northeastern cities and in Chicago.

1) San Francisco has had numerous earthquakes and fires and has been rebuilt several times throughout its dramatic history. Seven films in the collection capture the devastation resulting from the 1906 earthquake and fires that followed.

Search on earthquake, fire, disaster relief, and ruins. For example, search on disaster to find films such as San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, April 18, 1906 and Scenes in San Francisco. [No. 2].

2) Panoramic shots of San Francisco highlight transportation, business, recreation, and other aspects of daily life in the city at the turn of the century.

Search on Golden Gate, beach, resort, and railroad to find both residents and visitors in San Francisco. For example, search on beach to view films such as Panorama of Beach and Cliff House.

3) There are some films in the collection that contain footage of San Francisco's Chinatown. Viewing these films might lead to a larger discussion of turn-of-the-century American attitudes toward Asian immigrants.

Search on Chinese and Chinatown for films such as Arrest in Chinatown, San Francisco.

4) The collection includes footage that celebrates significant events in American foreign policy of the late 1890s.

Search on Spanish-American War, Theodore Roosevelt, and parade. For example, search on President Roosevelt to view the film Panorama, Union Square, San Francisco, which shows the President dedicating a monument commemorating the victory of Admiral Dewey and the U.S. Fleet over Spanish forces in the Philippines in 1898.

After the earthquake, San Franciscans rebuilt their city on a more impressive scale. Search on World's Fair to travel along with two popular silent screen comedy stars as they tour the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition, celebrating the newly rebuilt San Francisco and the opening of the Panama Canal.