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Great Fires: 1906 Great Earthquake & Fire

Boundry of the Fire
1906 Great Earthquake & Fire

1906 Map of Burned Area

Begin at point 1/2 way between foot of Mason and foot of Taylor proceed as follows. South to Beach, West to Taylor, South to Bay, West to Jones, South to Francisco, West 1/3 block, South to Chestnut, West 1/2 block, South 1/2 block, West to Leavenworth, North to Chestnut, West 1/2 block, South 2/3 block, West to Hyde, South to Greenwich, West to Polk, South to Filbert, West to Van Ness, South to Clay, West to Franklin, South to Sutter, East to Van Ness, South to Golden Gate, West to Gough, South to Locust Avenue, West 1/2 block, South to McAllister, West to Octavia, South to Ash Avenue, West 3/4 block, South to Fulton, East to Octavia, South to Fell, East 1/4 block, South to Hickory Avenue, East 1/4 block, South to Oak, West 1/4 block, South to Lily Avenue, East 1/4 block, South to Page, East to Gough, South to Market, Southwest to Guerrero, South to within 50 feet of 13th, East 50 feet, South to 13th, West to Guerrero, South to Clinton, West to Market, Southwest to Dolores, South to 20th, East to Valencia, South 1/2 block, East to Lexington, North to 20th, East to Mission, North 1/4 block, East 1/2 block, North 1/4 block, East to Capp, North to within 75 feet of 18th, East 1/3 block, North to 18th, East to Howard, North to 15th, East to Shotwell, East 1/2 block, North 1/4 block, East to Folsom, North to within 50 feet of 14th, East 50 feet, North to 14th, East to Harrison; along Harrison to 11th, Southeast to within 75 feet of Bryant, Northeast to Juniper, Southeast to Bryant, Northeast to 9th and 100 feet beyond. Southeast 1/2 block, Northeast to 8th, Southeast to point midway between Brannan and Townsend, Northeast 1/2 block, Southeast to Townsend, Northeast to 2nd, Northwest 1/3 block, Northeast 75 feet, Northwest 75 feet, Southwest to 2nd, Northwest to within 50 feet of corner. Northeast 1/2 block, Northwest to Brannan, Northeast to 1st, Northwest to Federal. North along base of Rincon Hill to Fremont at point midway between Bryant and Harrison, Northeast to Beale, Northwest to Harrison, Northeast to Main, Northwest to Folsom, Southwest 3/4 block, Northwest 1/2 block, Northeast to Main, Northwest to Howard, Northeast to Steuart, Northwest to Mission and 50 feet beyond, Northeast to East, Northwest to Pacific, West to Drumm, North to East, Northwest to Filbert, West to Battery, South 1/2 block, West to South 1/2 block, West to Sansome, South to Union, Southwest along base of Telegraph Hill to point on Green midway between Sansome and Montgomery, West to Montgomery, North to Union, West 1/4 block, North to Filbert, West to Kearney [sic], North 1-1/2 blocks, West 1/3 block, North to Lombard, East to point midway between Kearney and Montgomery, Northwest to Kearney and Chestnut, East to Sansome, North to East, Northwest to foot of Francisco, East to the Bay.

The Russian Hill district saved:
Begin at cor. of Broadway and Taylor, West 1/2 block, North to Vallejo, West to Jones, North 3/4 block, West 1/2 block, South 1/4 block, West to Leavenworth, North to Green, East 1/2 block, North 1/2 block, East to Jones and 75 feet beyond, South to Green, East 50 feet, North 1/2 block, East to Taylor, South to Vallejo, East 1/4 block, South 1/4 block, West 1/4 block, South to starting point.


By Associated Press. SAN FRANCISCO. April 23.— The fire having exhausted Itself, with the exception of still naming embers in a thousand places , here and there throughout the burned district, the Associated Press, for the purpose of determining the accuracy of the boundaries of the conflagration, sent out an automobile, which skirted the fire on its four sides.

The register of this machine at the end of the trip showed that it had traveled twenty-six miles, which, therefore, may be known as the length of the line along which the flames traveled.

This area includes the financial, commercial and much of the densely populated portion of the residence district, with all the splendid Institutions and great mansions that had grown up with the progress of the city. 

WHERE FIRE SWEPT ALL ' The start of the tour was made from the Pacific Mall dock at the corner of First and Brannan streets. Traveling along the north line of Brannan, the fire ate Its way to Second, where It crossed 'the street and consumed the warehouse of the great wine firm of Lachman & Jacobi, at the southeast corner of Brannan and Second.

Thence it moved along the west side of Second to Townsend and along the north line of Townsend to Seventh.

On this particular front it licked up the great building of the Southern Pacific at the corner of Fourth and Townsend streets.

This building was formerly the main offices of the system under the Huntington regime, but of late years had been used by the auditors of the freight and passenger departments.

Of its contents only the records were saved. But directly in front of the ruins there were already evidences of the undaunted spirit that animates the citizens of San Francisco at this crisis.

There 100 men were at work clearing the debris from Fourth street in order that the Southern Pacific might run spur tracks northerly along the line of Fourth to Market for the purpose of carrying away the Immense masses of brick and ruined material littering the streets and the sites of the business houses that so lately crowded that area.

And in this connection it is noted that the freight and passenger depots along the southerly side of Townsend street as far east as third, though built In the most flimsy manner and of the most perishable materials, were not so much as. scorched.

Standing at the corner of Fourth, and Townsend streets, one's eye caught the ruins of the great brick Catholic church of St. Rose, one block distant on Brannan near Fourth, which some eight years ago suffered a visitation of fire and had only lately risen from its ruins in what seemed to be imperishable brick and stone.

From Townsend, at the corner of Seventh, the fire burned along the east line of Seventh, northerly, half way to Brannan, where It crossed and burned half the block on the southerly line of Brannan, between Seventh and Eighth.

Thence, crossing Brannan, still in a northerly direction, it burned along the east line of Eighth to Bryant; thence along the south line of Bryant half way to Ninth; thence along the north line of Bryant to Juniper, a small street half way distant between Tenth and Eleventh, sparing the northeast corner of Eleventh and Bryant;

Thence along the east line of juniper to Harrison; Thence along the east line of Harrison to Fourteenth, and along the north line of Fourteenth to Folsom, jumping the street at this point to lick up the building at the southeast corner of Folsom and Fourteenth; thence half way along the west line of Folsom to Fifteenth, but leaving Intact the structure at the northwest corner of Fifteenth and Folsom.

Along the northwest line of Fifteenth it ate its way to Shotwell and along the west line of Shotwell to Fifteenth. Skirling the north line of Fifteenth it traveled to Howard, and along the west, line of Howard to Eighteenth, where it again diverged northerly along the north line of Eighteenth as far as Capp. and thence along the west line of Capp.

In this, immediate district It was noted that the block bounded by Seventeenth and Eighteenth and Howard and Shotwell, though spared by the flames had been terribly shaken by the quake. In some instances the houses were a mass of ruins. It bring thought that of all the buildings in that square block the only two that might be saved from the wreck were those of Lawyer  W. C. Graves of 2189 Howard street.

Even the frame Catholic church of St. Charles at Shotwell and Eighteenth appeared to be unsafe. The streets In this vicinity were sunken from six to  eight feet In places, and the earth opened In great gaps, while the rails of the street car system were twisted and broken.

In Its progress the conflagration consumed all the dwellings along the west line of Capp to a point half way between Nineteenth and Twentieth, leaving Intact a row of residences fronting on the northerly line of Twentieth, between Capp and Mission; thence it burned along the north line of Twentieth to Dolores, at which point it was by the great openings which were formerly the Jewish cemeteries of this city, but which within a few years had been purchased by the municipality and were in process of being converted into. a pleasure ground.

Here are encamped some of the many thousands who are homeless.

Before leaving this district it may be  mentioned that an Independent fire was started Wednesday morning immediately after the temblor in the dry goods store of Lippman at the corner of Twenty-second and Mission.

This fire burned over an area of 150 by 300 feet, but there being water in the mains at that time it was checked.

Traveling northerly on Dolores from  Twentieth there was nothing but a waste to be seen on the east line of Dolores,  scarcely a vestige remaining of the handsome structures erected by the Sisters of Notre Dame. At the northerly end of Dolores, where it meets the extension of Market street the flames were diverted by the great barren cut at that point eating easterly, thence along the south line of Clinton park to Guerrero and along the east line of Guerrero running In their course the half constructed hospital of. St. Katherine to Market street, whence they spread along the southerly side of that thoroughfare easterly to Gough. Thence along the east line of Gough to Page, along the north line of Page half way to Octavia, sparing the row of buildings along the easterly line of Octavia as far as Fell, where they reached to the easterly line of Octavia and along that line northerly to Fulton, where on the west side they were fronted by a half burned block that had been consumed by fire started by in overturned lamp on the morning of the earthquake.

Along the southerly line of McAllister the flames made their way to Gough, stopping long enough to consume the northwest corner of Gough and McAllister. Thence along the easterly line of Gough to Golden Gate avenue, thence along the southerly line of Golden Gate avenue to Van Ness and along the east line of Van Ness to Sutter, where they crossed to the west side and burned the blocks from the north line of Sutter and the east line of Franklin through to Clay.

In this district were Included some of the most splendid mansions of the city, chief among which was the majestic home of Claus Spreckels, at the southwest corner of Clay and Van Ness. This splendid piece, of architecture, done In brown stone In the chateau style, still stands, though blackened by the ordeal and divested of all Its beauty, a melancholy testimony of the futility of human endeavor.

Still burning along the east line of Van Ness, north toward Fort Mason, the fire reached Greenwich, along the south line of which it spreads to Larkin and along the east line of Larkin to Lombard.

Thence along the south line of Lombard to Hyde and along the east line of Hyde to Chestnut, easterly thence along the south line of Chestnut to Taylor; thence along the east line of Taylor to Bay, along the south line of Bay to Mason and down the east side of Mason to the city front.

Within this vast waste of shouldering embers were found three cases where human beings still have their habitats as before the great conflagration. One of these was to be seen on the very summit of Telegraph Hill, where perhaps a score of homes still stand.

At the northwest corner of Jones and Green, the residence of O. D. Baldwin, the real estate dealer in the Mills building, is still habitable.

Across the way at the northeast corner Mrs. Edward Huber has preserved her home. On a southerly line of Green at 1009 to 1017 are to be found residences of Kirk Harris, George J. Phillips, B. J. Birdsall, William Hanke, Charles O'Brien and Martin Fussier.

In this cluster are also the homes of H. P. Llvermore, capitalist, on Vallejo, between Jones and Taylor; Miss K. M. Atkinson. 1032 Broadway: Homer Parker, 1039 Broadway: Ell Sheppard, capitalist, at Vallejo and Taylor; Rev. Joseph Worcester, 1030 Vallejo: Livingston Jenks. northwest corner of Vallejo and Taylor; Thomas Richardson, lumberman. 1032 Vallejo: Morgan Sheppard, 1034 Vallejo; Frank Stone, Insurance, 1036 Vallejo: Mrs. Virgil Williams, widow of the artist and of the elder Polk, father of Willis Polk, the architect.

There are also six sets of flats in this vicinity which remain Intact. These courageous men and women who saved their homes by main effort, while a sea of flame raged and roared about them. In their great thankfulness for the mercy that has been shown them, have only this small complaint to make:

"That in their distress they have been quite abandoned by the constituted authorities and for their protection have organized a patrol system of their own, each man of the number taking a two hours task of duty."

Some 300 of the houses lying on the south and east slopes of Telegraph Hill remain to attest the efficacy of the juice of the grape In quenching flames when water failed, for in this quarter the householders, many of whom are Italians, saved their abodes by a free use of the red wine stored in their cellars.

The red walls of the houses show the stains where the claret-soaked sacks had been used to cool the heated walls of the buildings.

The one remaining spot unburned within the district is bounded by Montgomery, Battery, Jackson and Washington. Within this district is the appraisers' building, in which is stored some half million dollars of valuable wares belonging to the importing merchants of San Francisco. The saving of this and the adjoining buildings is ascribed to the heroic endeavors of Captain Wolfe and his men of Company D, Twenty-second United States infantry, who with such means as they had at hand, succeeded in fighting off the devouring element.
Source: Los Angeles Herald, Volume 33, Number 206, 24 April 1906 — BURMED DISTRICT CIRCLED BY AUTO [ARTICLE]

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