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Historic Snaps of the Deadliest Earthquake in U.S. History

Early in the morning of April 18, 1906, an earthquake struck the city of San Francisco. Along with the fires that followed, it remains the deadliest earthquake in U.S. history with over 3,000 fatalities. An estimated 28,000 buildings were destroyed and a reported 225,000 people out of San Francisco’s population of 400,000 became homeless.

The earthquake was one of the first disasters to be widely photographed, with tens of thousands of images taken by professional and anonymous photographers. Drawing from the collection at the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, California, the museum put together Out of the Ashes: Snapshots of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, an exhibition featuring images made and circulated in the aftermath of the tragedy. Out of the Ashes includes original hand-tinted lantern slides, photographs, and panoramas alongside large-scale digital reproductions of historic mages. The exhibition was curated by Carolyn Brucken, the Autry’s Senior Curator. Reminiscent of contemporary photographs documenting the effects of disasters, the images, though made with early photographic technology, show human suffering and solitude in the wake of enormous loss.

Out of the Ashes: Snapshots of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake
Autry Museum of the American West
Los Angeles, California
Through June 9, 2019

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