San Francisco's Tradition of Celebrating the City's Single Deadliest Day in History Isn't What It Sounds Like

  • Source: SFIST
  • Published: 04/19/2021 12:00 AM

The 1906 earthquake in San Francisco struck on April 18 at 5:12 a.m., registering a massive 7.9M on the Richter scale — killing more than 3,000 and leaving a trail of fires that destroyed 80% of the city. Sunday morning, San Francisco erupted in celebration to commemorate the day but to also usher in hope. Without context, San Francisco’s annual celebration of the 1906 earthquake appears to be an ass-backward event. (The second-largest tremor to ever be recorded in California killed thousands; left entire city blocks either completely charred or buried in rubble; 250,000 San Franciscans became homeless overnight; survivors camped out in Golden Gate Park and the dunes west of the city... or fled to outlying towns.) But at its core, the carousel of levity that spins every year at 5:12 a.m. in downtown is meant to mirror San Francisco’s inherent resilience — all while serving as a reminder to hold on to hope in difficult times.


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