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May 25, 2024 32 mins

This 2019 episode covers the earthquake of April 18, 1906 that changed San Francisco forever. The earthquake and a series of fires devastated much of the city and had long-term ramifications.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:02):
Happy Saturday. Coming up soon, we have an episode on
someone whose life took a big turn thanks in part
to the earthquake and fires that struck San Francisco in
nineteen oh six, although that happened before this person was born,
and he also was not born in the United States.
So we are bringing our episode on this earthquake in

(00:22):
fires out as Today's Saturday Classic. This originally came out
November thirteenth, twenty nineteen. Welcome to Stuff You Missed in
History Class, a production of iHeartRadio. Hello, and welcome to

(00:43):
the podcast. I'm Holly Frye and I'm Tracy V. Wilson. Tracy.
As you know, I recently took a couple days off
sort of. I still did some work, but I went
to one of my very favorite cities, San Francisco. Uh huh.
I go to San Francisco with some regularity, and this
has not happened to me before, but I noticed on
this recent visit one of the city's historical moments kept

(01:05):
coming up in conversation in a variety of different places,
like with our lift drivers, or like someone would bring
it up at dinner and I was like, did somebody
run an article and it also came up at the
bed and breakfast where I like to stay when I'm
in San Francisco, which is the Monte Cristo, which I'm
in love with, and that BnB has its own really
fun history. It was a bordello and a saloon and

(01:27):
then a speakeasy before it started its life as a hotel.
But one of the interesting things about it, and what
had come up in conversation with one of the staff
while I was eating breakfast, was that it had been
built in the eighteen seventies and it was one of
the buildings that survived the nineteen oh six earthquake and
fires that destroyed so much of the city, Like it
came very close to this building, but it remained intact.

(01:48):
And in two thousand and one, previous host Sarah and
Deblina did an episode called History's Unforgettable Fires, and on
that episode they talked about a handful of significant fire incidents,
including the fire that ravaged Sam Francisco in nineteen oh six.
But today I thought it might be worth giving this
particular incident a little bit more attention, because whenever you're
doing one of those survey episodes, you can't get really

(02:09):
in depth on anything, the earthquake itself remains geologically significant
in terms of resulting learnings, and we're going to talk
a little bit about that coming up and the devastation
that followed. It really does serve as a terrifying example
of just how quickly a really well established city and
its infrastructure can be completely leveled. And the city was
so damaged by this whole series of events that Jack

(02:32):
London wrote after all of the events we're talking about today, quote,
surrender was complete, essentially, like the city was just gone.
And there is also an important story here about the
city's immigrant population, specifically the residents of Chinatown, which had
grown into a very well established and very prosperous community
by nineteen oh six, And we are going to get

(02:52):
to all of that, but first, to set the stage,
we're going to talk just a little bit about San
Francisco's beginnings as a city. Of nineteen oh six, San
Francisco had an estimated population of about four hundred thousand people,
so it was a pretty bustling city, but like a
lot of cities, it did not start with a lot
of planning. Of course, there were native people in the

(03:14):
area long before any Europeans got there, but Lieutenant Jose
Joaquin Moraga, who Spanish, was working with Reverend Francisco pau
and they're credited with establishing a military post at the
tip of the San Francisco Peninsula in seventeen seventy six,
and over time that the outpost evolved into the Presidio.

(03:35):
William Anthony Richardson, an Englishman, is cited as putting the
first dwelling in the area, and that happened in eighteen
thirty five, So sometime after that initial military post, that dwelling,
as it's sometimes referred to, was really just a simple tent,
but a settlement kind of grew around Richardson's tent, and
that settlement was known as Yureba Buena. And the US

(03:56):
government was already well aware of the potential importance of
California It's the Bay area, because it is very good
place to do trade from because that same year that
Richardson started his settlement, the US was trying to buy
that land from Mexico. The United States gained control of
northern California eleven years later during the Mexican American War.

(04:17):
Here Ba Buena was renamed San Francisco. In early eighteen
forty seven, and then, of course, two years later the
coastal town was gripped by the gold rush. That led
to a huge growth period as thousands of people relocated
to the city in a very sort of amount of time,
hoping to strike it rich. Yeah, that's come up on
the show a number of times, just how quickly there
was this huge population influx to San Francisco and the

(04:39):
surrounding areas, and that haphazard nature of the city's growth
meant that it was pretty organic in its structure. More
to the point, there just really wasn't much in the
way of city planning, so things like utilities and neighborhood
layouts were developed over the years on the fly, and
this was something that people recognized as risky. For example,
if you listened to our episode on Levi Strauss a

(05:01):
while back, who died several years before the events that
we're talking about today, you might recall that he was
already in his lifetime advocating for building regulations that would
reduce the risk of fire spreading in the city of
a fire broke out, because they already recognized were kind
of tightly packed and not really well planned out. So
this was an issue that was being discussed among city

(05:22):
and business leaders long before the precarious nature of the
city's infrastructure was so deeply challenged and ultimately collapsed by
the nineteen oh six quake. On the morning of April eighteenth,
nineteen oh six, an event happened that lasted less than
a minute but changed the city really forever. At five
twelve am, the earthquake started and it was over at
five point thirteen. The actual length of the quake is

(05:46):
listed as forty five seconds to a minute, depending on
the source and where the report was coming from. The
epicenter of the quake was offshore, and shocks were felt
as far north as the mid Oregon coast all the
way down to Los Angeles, and it also traveled inland
all the way in its full length of the rupture.
That's the area of slip on the Earth's crust that's
been determined to have been two hundred ninety six miles

(06:08):
or four hundred and seventy seven kilometers, and the magnitude
has been estimated at a number of different numbers, from
seven point seven to eight point three on the Richter scale,
and there were immediate collapses of buildings throughout the city.
When this quake happened, the California Theater and Hotel on
Bush Street lost structural integrity and its dome fell into
the nearby fire station. It mortally wounded the fire chief engineer,

(06:32):
Dennis T. Sullivan. He died several days later of his injuries.
Another fire station on Howard Street also had part of
a hotel collapse into it, killing fireman James O'Neill, and
there were a lot of other fatalities as well as
buildings went down, but losing fire personnel would prove to
be a particularly devastating problem. So the quake caused structural

(06:53):
damage all through the city, but the situation became exponentially
more grave immediately afterward. The city's gas lines had been
ruptured and that set off a series of fires. To
make matters worse, San Francisco's water mains had also been
seriously damaged in the quake, and that made the task
of fighting the fire just that much more difficult. Plus,

(07:15):
the city had lost a lot of firemen in the earthquake. Initially, Yeah,
we're going to talk about it a little bit later,
but Sullivan in particular was a particularly hard loss. Two
fires started right after the quake, one south of Market
and the other north of Market Street near the water.
And the following day two additional fires began, one on
Hayes Valley and another inner restaurant, And when the conditions

(07:36):
really helped, these various fires spread to the west and
then from there they got a stronghold and they just
kept spreading. At six thirty am on eighteenth, which was
a little more than an hour after the quake started,
all the troops from Fort Mason were requested to report
to the Mayor, Eugene Smith's immediately. Within about thirty minutes,
army soldiers were arriving at the Hall of Justice and

(07:58):
were assigned patrol duties around the city to assess damage
and to offer help. Just as the troops were getting
started with this effort, an aftershock hit at eight fourteen am,
and a lot of buildings that had remained standing after
the main quake a few hours earlier had sustained significant
structural damage and they collapsed in this aftershock. Then at
ten am, more troops arrived. These were coming from Fort

(08:21):
McDowell on Angel Island. The US Navy cruiser the USS
Chicago received word around the same time about the situation.
That was unfolding in San Francisco, it made its way
to the city. This was the first use of a
telegraph to communicate a natural disaster. The USS Chicago would
become instrumental in the evacuation of the city's residents, and

(08:42):
then the USS Prebble made its way to the city
too to offer medical assistance. Fires continued to claim buildings
throughout the city, including government buildings, the financial district, fire stations,
and hospitals. As the fire spread, crews worked frantically to
try to move people to safety and combat blazes that
were starting at this point all over the city. Coming up,

(09:04):
we are going to talk about a really bad move
that was made in an effort to combat the fires,
and we'll get to that after we have a quick
sponsor break. In the afternoon of April eighteenth, so at
this point several hours had passed since the quake and

(09:25):
the fires were beginning. A decision was made which has
come to be seen pretty clearly as one of the
worst possible moves. The plan was to dynamite some buildings
in the city to create a fire break. So the
idea was that if some buildings were destroyed before the
fire got to them, They then could not catch fire
and continue to spread the fire, and thus a barrier

(09:46):
around the blaze would be created. This was actually an
approach that the fire chief engineer, Dennis T. Sullivan that
we talked about earlier, had been an advocate of. He
had been talking about this long before this incident happened
as a way to potentially fight big fires, and he
would have been the one to execute such an idea,
but because he was dying, he could not, and there
weren't other people on hand with his level of expertise,

(10:09):
so proceeding without him and without a real understanding and
knowledge of how to do this turned out to be disastrous. Yeah,
and this, like, this is not a technique that he
was just making up. This is something that had been
used in other historical fires, in some cases successfully. Yeah,
and he had done a lot of research about it
to figure out how it would work in their city. Right, So, like,

(10:31):
the core idea of it was not the issue. The
Army had provided the fire department with explosives, but the
type of explosive that was provided was black gunpowder, and
the novice use of those explosives did not really level
the buildings as intended. It was more like it blew
them apart, and it sent burning shrapnel through the air.

(10:51):
That was in a city that was already engulfed in flame,
with water nearly impossible to come by. It's easy to
see how this really went wrong. And some cases the
soldiers who were tasked with facing the blaze took out
buildings using artillery. These incorrect methods just kept being used
while the city was burning, so as the firefighters and

(11:12):
the soldiers retreated from the spreading flames, they kept trying
to blow up the areas they had just left, not
realizing that they were making the whole situation worse. Yeah,
it's one of those things where it's a directive given
to people who don't have any training. So it's not
as though they understood right why, like, oh, this is
the wrong way to do this, Like nobody really knew.

(11:34):
They were really grasping at straws, and the fire made
its way through knob Hill and Chinatown, North Beach and
the Mission District. As residents fled, often with nothing but
the clothes that they wore. The dead that could be
collected that were not trapped in buildings were brought to
public squares and parks. Some were buried in those same
spaces because there was just nowhere else to take them.

(11:56):
As the casualties mounted. Charles B. Sedgwick, who was editor
of the periodical The British Californian, wrote an account of
his experience in the earthquake and fire in the nineteen
oh six American Builder's Review, and his account is really fascinating.
He writes candidly about the severity of the destruction and
his personal revelation that what was happening was a historic

(12:17):
level tragedy. He mentions like other historical moments where cities
have been destroyed, and kind of being very aware that
this was happening where he was. But he also writes
this quote that night I climbed to the summit of
Russian Hill to view the conflagration, and never shall I
forget the sight. It was weirdly beautiful. A thousand banners
of flame were streaming in the cloudless sky from spires

(12:40):
and domes and lofty roofs, the underseene being a sea
of glowing gold and tumultuous but brilliant, beyond anything I
had ever seen or conceived of, and magnificent in the
irresistible power, its great flaming waves, leaping upon or dashing
against the strongest creations of man and obliterating them. As

(13:00):
of one hundred battles in progress with myriad giant guns
in play, told of the fierce, relentless destruction as towering
buildings eaten loose, toppled and fell, or were lifted skyward
by thundering dynamite to then scatter and drop, throwing up
huge fiery splashes from the burning sea. But he also
writes in this account that during the fires and even

(13:22):
during the evacuation, most people seemed pretty upbeat and cheerful.
They helped each other out as much as they could.
This was almost undoubtedly because they were in shock and
having to focus on the basic tasks of rescue and survival,
and Sedgwick wrote quote, few of the people who went
through the San Francisco experience will ever again know fear.
I think. He also wrote that in the aftermath, when

(13:44):
the fires were finally put out, then the emotional crash
came as people saw how much they really had lost.
But this is a different take on the situation than
most accounts suggest. So other accounts describe the scene in
San Francisco as completely chaotic, not this of oddly pleasant
experience that Sedgwick had, with looting and other lawless behavior

(14:05):
a primary concern. This was so worrying that the mayor
issued the following proclamation on day one of the disaster. Quote,
the federal troops, the members of the regular police force,
and all special police officers have been authorized by me
to kill any and all persons found engaged in looting
or in the commission of any other crime. I have

(14:26):
directed all the gas and electric lighting companies not to
turn on gas or electricity until I order them to
do so. You may, therefore expect the city to remain
in darkness for an indefinite time. I request all citizens
to remain at home from darkness until daylight every night
until order is restored. I warn all citizens of the

(14:47):
danger of fire from damaged or destroyed chimneys, broken or
leaking gas pipes or fixtures, or any like cause. Law
enforcement was so concerned that drunkenness would lead to violence
that many Si Zoon owners found their supply seized and destroyed.
It's estimated that thirty thousand dollars worth of liquor was destroyed.
As this preemptive move to try to keep the peace.

(15:09):
Later on, those saloon owners made claims for restitution to
the government, and by the time the fires were put out,
which only happened after three days of the city burning,
San Francisco was obviously not the city that it had
been on April eighteenth. Before the earthquake, five hundred and
eight city blocks covering four point seven square miles had burned.

(15:29):
More than twenty eight thousand of the city's buildings had
been destroyed by fire, more than three thousand people had died,
and of that population of four hundred thousand that we
mentioned earlier, two hundred fifty thousand were left homeless. There
was an estimated four hundred million dollars worth of damage.
You'll see various different numbers, some a little higher than that,

(15:50):
but that is nineteen oh six value. That is not
a number adjusted for modern equivalents. The ferry building had
been saved by the US Navy, so ferries were able
to get people out of the city, and the railroad
suspended fair collection while they took people to other towns
for refuge. A lot of people stayed and started clean
up as soon as they could return to their property.

(16:10):
While this devastation led some to proclaim that San Francisco
was gone for good, that was obviously not the case.
We mentioned San Francisco's founding an explosive and organic growth
at the beginning of the episode. Because of its unplanned nature.
Of course, the city's infrastructure and layout had not really
had much foresought. In the aftermath of the devastation, plans

(16:31):
were made to rebuild with a clearer and grander vision
for the city, but government officials were feeling they need
to prove their city's resilience, and they rushed a lot
of this work. Also, things became mired in bribes and
underhanded dealings during the process that eventually led to a
series of trials known as the San Francisco Graft Trials.

(16:52):
I'm sure outside of the scope of today's episode, but
Holly assures me it will be a show in a future.
There's no way I can't do it. There's like shots
fired in a courtroom. There's like a crazy It's a
really good story, full of high drama and illicit behavior.
But it is also because of the events of nineteen

(17:13):
oh six that the areas outside of San Francisco grew
significantly Oakland, Fremont, San Jose, and other areas all experienced
population growth, first as people moved there away from the fire,
although San Jose had damage of its own, and then
as the Bay area rebuilt, more people moved there from
outside that had not been there in the first place,
and it really did have this large explosion of population again,

(17:35):
but this time with a little more planning. But this
growth came with its own problems. Racism was pretty rampant.
There were some areas that were very clear that they
were not going to be welcoming to, for example, immigrants
or people of color. So it wasn't as though everything
was rebuilt in a utopia where everybody was cool with
each other. But it was a huge time of growth

(17:57):
for the Bay area and the city surrounding San Francisco.
The other big thing to come out of this was
a sudden focus on the scientific community on the San
Andreas Fault system. The United States first seismographs had been
in use for less than twenty years. Other countries around
the globe had been researching the science of earthquakes, but
outside of a pretty small group of researchers, this wasn't

(18:18):
a significant area of study in the United States. Yet
the earthquake of nineteen oh six changed that though, And
to be clear, some of the seeming slowness in this
space was because seismology, even abroad, was still in its
very early stages. H German scientist Alfred Wegener, who you
are going to hear more about in coming episodes, was

(18:38):
still six years away from introducing the idea of continental drift,
and the theory of plate tectonics wasn't developed until the
nineteen sixties. So even though other countries were working in
earthquake study, everyone was still really in the very beginnings
of this science. Yeah, by total coincidence, researching an episode
on Alfred Beginer right now as we speak, not literally

(19:03):
while we're in the studio, but as soon as we're done,
I'm getting back to it. So following this earthquake, UC
Berkeley Geology Department head Andrew C. Lawson started amassing data
and he was named chair of the State Earthquake Investigation
Commission was established by California Governor George C. Pardy. That
commission published a full report after two years of work,

(19:24):
and that's generally referred to as the laws In Report.
The report set the bar for scientific investigation and included
work from twenty different scientists. It's a really thorough compilation
of data, including maps and photos of the damage and
measurements of the movement of the earth around the San
Andreas fault. Yeah, as a complete science sidebar, I will

(19:46):
mention that where the epicenter was determined by research has
shifted a few times over the years as our scientific
knowledge has gotten a little bit more refined along the way.
But really with the loss and report, all of these
ideas started, and all of this research really began, and
the report formed the basis of earthquake knowledge related to California,

(20:08):
and it also informed future construction and scientific observational guidelines.
So that meant that earthquake hazards were reduced because predictive
modeling was developed as a consequence to warn people of
impending quakes, and buildings were made to better with stand shaking.
And it really all goes back to the scientific community
really rallying right after this event. Coming up, we'll talk

(20:29):
about a very different topic, and that's how racist attitudes
toward Chinatown played out in the aftermath of the nineteen
oh six quake. But first we will pause and have
another quick word from one of our sponsors. In the

(20:50):
wake of the earthquake and fire, the displaced population of
Chinatown in particular based a really harrowing situation. The whole
city was in a bad state. People were displaced, more
than half of the city had lost their homes. Water
was very difficult to get. But Chinatown had a whole
different problem. And we've talked on the show before about
the Page Act of eighteen seventy five and the Chinese

(21:10):
Exclusion Act of eighteen eighty two, both of which were
intended to stop immigration from China to the US, and
as the initial swell of the Gold Rush's prosperity had ebbed,
animosity toward immigrants had swelled, particularly Chinese people that were
living in California and San Francisco's Chinatown was viewed with
suspicion and outright hostility. This neighborhood was destroyed in the

(21:33):
earthquake and estimated fifteen thousand of its residents lost their
homes in the disaster. It offered city officials this chance
to try to push the residents of Chinatown out permanently
and take over their neighborhood's real estate, which was really lucrative.
Most of Chinatown's displaced population sought refuge in nearby Oakland,

(21:53):
that also had its own well established Chinatown, but the
people that stayed behind were segregated away from other refugees
at the presidio. Meanwhile, all the other residents were allowed
to return to their property immediately after the fire was extinguished. Yeah,
but those Chinese residents were not. They continued to be held.
City officials wanted to keep the displaced residents away from

(22:15):
their neighborhood to prevent rebuilding efforts in Chinatown. The city
government established a General Committee for the Chinese Relocation with
the intent to determine exactly what to do with this
entire community of people that the city no longer wanted,
and one possibility was to establish a new area for
them outside the city limits. But even early on, it

(22:37):
was recognized that this was not the best idea because
there was a lot of business done among the occupants
of Chinatown as well as tourism, and that included taxes
that the city desperately wanted to keep collecting. It was
going to need that money as part of the rebuilding effort.
And while this isn't in any way suggesting that racism
was not an issue in all of this. There is

(22:57):
an interesting thing that happens where there's a mentality shift
that's noted. It came up in a paper that I
was reading, where this is the first time on record
that people kind of acknowledged that instead of thinking that
Chinese immigrants were hurting the economy, they were recognizing that
they were a significant and important part of the city's

(23:18):
financial well being. That was something that Chinatown's residents already knew,
and they weren't passively waiting to see what city officials
would do. They immediately spoke out against what was happening.
Through their relationships with the Protestant and Catholic churches, which
offered spaces to gather, the residents of Chinatown got organized.
Leaders from the Chinese community gave statements to the press

(23:40):
that made it clear that they would fight efforts to
relocate them and that they were as a community united
in this stance. On May first, nineteen oh six, the
San Francisco Call ran an article. This contained some very
outdated language in terms of how Chinese people were referred to,
but it reported quote, Celestial landowners hold that they cannot
be deprived of their rights fifty Chinese owners of property

(24:03):
in Old Chinatown have decided to rebuild on the sites
where their buildings were destroyed. Legal advisors of the Chinese,
the Chinese Consul General and the Vice Consul King Ao Yang,
gave it as their opinion that the owners or lessees
of land in Chinatown cannot be deprived of the right
to rebuild if they so desired. It has been decided

(24:23):
to resist any attempt of the authorities to compel the
Chinese to establish themselves at Hunter's Point against the wishes
of those who owned property in the old territory. So
throughout all this conflict, the Benevolent Six Companies, which she
might see, sided with a number of slightly different names,
including the Chinese Six Companies, or by the name that
it's known by today, which is Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association.

(24:47):
I was vital to the organizational efforts. This group has
its own complex and nuanced history, but by nineteen oh
six it was working essentially as an internal support and
umbrella organization for the people of Chinatown. We should mention
that the group had expanded outside of California, but their
headquarters were still in San Francisco, and the Benevolent Six
Companies organization was able to leverage its position to reach

(25:09):
out to the Chinese government, and as a result, a
delegation of Chinese officials made a public statement and requested
a meeting with Governor Party, and their statement began. This
is said in the point of view of the person
giving the statement quote, I have heard the report that
the authorities intend to remove Chinatown, but I cannot believe it.
America is a free country, and every man has a

(25:31):
right to occupy land which he owns, provided that he
makes no nuisance. The Chinese government owns the lot on
which the Chinese Consulate of San Francisco formerly stood, and
this site on Stockton Street will be used again. It
is the intention of our government to build a new
building on the property, paying strict attention to the new
building regulations which may be framed. While that statement was

(25:53):
specifically about the consulate, the officials used their meeting with
the governor to make the convincing case that Chinatown was
i were of significant tax revenue and trade. There was
also a request that Chinese officials be allowed to enter
the area of the presidio while the city's Chinese refugees
are being held under guard so those officials could administer aid.

(26:13):
The city of San Francisco also started seeing more and
more just how valuable the economic influence of its Chinese
residence was. Some business owners just got tired of this
whole situation and opted to leave the Bay Area and
start over in new cities, often at the invitation of
those cities. Delegates from Seattle and Portland had actually arrived

(26:33):
in San Francisco to reach out to displace Chinese business
owners and offer them assistance if they wanted to move
to their cities. That was a little bit scary for
the leadership of San Francisco, who realized they were clearly
getting rid of something that other people saw as an asset.
And though this caused a permanent dip in the Chinese
population of the city, one that actually took decades to

(26:54):
make up, the majority of Chinatown's residents really wanted more
than anything to just continue you their lives in San Francisco,
which they considered their home. At this point, after the
lobbying efforts, protests, and statements that San Francisco's Chinese community
would not just accept relocation, as well as a serious
realization about the fiscal value of keeping Chinatown inside the

(27:16):
city's municipality. City officials finally relented and allowed the residents
of Chinatown to go back to their neighborhood and start
rebuilding the new Chinatown. As most of the rebuilt San
Francisco was built with city planning at the forefront to
make it better than before, and nineteen ten, right up
with the San Francisco Call described the newly rebuilt Chinatown
as quote barbarously gorgeous. Again, we're super not saying that

(27:41):
racism toward the Chinese and other Asian communities was suddenly abandoned.
I mean, the fact the word barbarously is right there
before gorgeous nods to that. Also, if you would like
to hear more about this rebuilding process, there's a great
episode of ninety nine percent Invisible that's like specifically about
how they redesigned town. Yeah, it's also interesting there are

(28:03):
that entire article that calls it barbarously gorgeous. It's a
weird series of praise and backhanded compliments where it's like
it's so beautiful and amazing. I hope it doesn't start
to stink like it did before. Like it's a really wow,
strange horrible. While they're like acknowledging, how like what an
astonishing and absolutely beautiful accomplishment it was in the rebuild,

(28:27):
like they couldn't resist getting in some really grossed racist
barbs along the way. Yeah, it's again fascinating. Even while
they acknowledge people's value, they still had to like get
in insults, which is a very strange and dismaying thing
to read. There is still information today that is surfacing

(28:49):
about the fire and Chinatown. Specifically, in twenty fifteen, while
construction was being done on the Uni light rail line
from Chinatown to South Market, in archaeological excavation that was
running concurrently discovered a number of industrial showing machines that
were manufactured in the late nineteenth century. That find was
right in front of today's Chinese American Citizens Alliance building

(29:12):
on Stockton Street, and it offered insight into an area
of the city that wasn't particularly well documented in nineteen
oh six. Even things in Chinatown that were documented have
been pretty elusive from a historical standpoint, because the documentation
of where things were was largely lost in the earthquake
and the fires that followed. City Hall, for example, had

(29:32):
burned to the ground, and with it went the census
records and citizenship documentation. Yes, sorting that whole citizenship status
situation out was its own big mess. There are certainly
some indications that some people took advantage of that situation
and could just say, like, no, I was a citizen,

(29:53):
but my records are burned. But also people that were
citizens had no proof either. It was a very strange time.
But because this area was more than eight feet below
the street where they found these sewing machines, that discovery
indicated that there was probably a basement factory that existed
on that site, and this meant that researchers could use

(30:14):
that information to try to identify, from what records still
do exist, the garment factory that had been there, and
hopefully eventually identify some of the workers that had been there,
and thus create a little bit more robust historical record
of the neighborhood and its citizens. And that's something that
takes on considerable significance when you consider the treatment of

(30:35):
the displaced Chinese population after the disaster, and as the
city continues construction projects finds like these are more and
more difficult, and pre nineteen oh six discoveries are becoming
ever more rare, but for Chinatown in particular, it's piecing
together a big, big gap in their record, so it
becomes more and more important. I don't know what the

(30:56):
status is on the research into what building was there
and finding out who the people that worked in that
factory where I couldn't I did not manage to dig
up more info on it, So I'm not sure what
status that that research is at, but it's fascinating. I
sure do love San Francisco's Chinatown. The eating I have
done in San Francisco's Chinatown. That ninety nine percent Invisible

(31:20):
episode I think is called It's Chinatown. It's from twenty eighteen,
I think, and it talks about how they designed that
Chinatown neighborhood and then how that influenced other cities Chinatown.
It's really interesting. Yeah, yeah, I mean San Francisco's Chinatown
is often considered like the original United States Chinatown in

(31:47):
a metro area, and so it has been you said,
very influential throughout our country and others. Frankly, and again,
oh the food I have eaten there and I just
love it. It's really beautiful part of the city. It
makes me so happy, just to walk around there. Thanks

(32:09):
so much for joining us on this Saturday. Since this
episode is out of the archive, if you heard an
email address or a Facebook RL or something similar over
the course of the show, that could be obsolete now.
Our current email address is History Podcast at iHeartRadio dot com.
You can find us all over social media at missed Dhistory,

(32:29):
and you can subscribe to our show on Apple podcasts,
Google podcasts, the iHeartRadio app, and wherever else you listen
to podcasts. Stuff you missed in History Class is a
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