Apr 17, 2023 - News

Commemorating the 1906 earthquake

gold-painted hydrant

A San Francisco firefighter sprays gold paint on a fire hydrant during the annual painting of the hydrant known as the "little giant" on April 18, 2006. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Tuesday marks the 117th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fires that struck San Francisco.

What's happening: At 5:12am, in commemoration of the exact time the quake struck in 1906, the San Francisco Fire Department will host a ceremony at Lotta's Fountain downtown.

  • Following the ceremony, there will be a procession to the gold-painted fire hydrant on 20th and Church streets near Dolores Park, where it will be repainted gold.

Of note: That exact fire hydrant was reportedly the sole source of water thousands of volunteers used to put out fires in the south side of the Mission District after the earthquake.

What they're saying: The event aims to "commemorate those who suffered great losses and celebrate the spirit and resolve of the people who overcame the devastation of that historical day and rebuilt this great city," SFFD fire chief Jeanine Nicholson said in a press release.

Context: The 1906 earthquake, a magnitude 7.9, was the most powerful in Northern California's recorded history.

  • More than 3,000 San Francisco residents died and more than half of the city's population was left homeless due to the amount of property damage, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
  • The quake ignited several fires throughout the city that burned for three days.

Go deeper: A reality check on Bay Area earthquakes.

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