'The Desolate City', panoramic view of San Francisco, California, 1906.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Photograph by R J Walters, showing the aftermath of the earthquake which struck San Francisco on the morning of 18th April 1906. The earthquake is estimated to have measured around 8.25 on the Richter Scale, but it was the fires ignited by the quake, many due to ruptured gas mains, that caused the majority of the devastation to the city. The fires burned for three days, with the Fire Department's ability to fight the blaze hampered by the damage caused to the water supply system by the earthquake. In all at least 700 people were killed, 250,000 were left homeles, and the total cost of the damage was estimated at $ 350 million.