This Remarkable Video from 1906 Shows San Francisco Before the Great Earthquake


In 1906, San Francisco was struck by a strong earthquake and massive fire, which destroyed more than 80 percent of the city. But four days before the destructive incident, a film was shot there. On April 14, 1906, the Miles brothers, which included Harry, Herbert, Earle, and Joe, produced a moving picture, which is shown below.

Harry J. Miles was the one who operated the Bell & Howell camera and placed it in front of the streetcar while filming. He held it from 8th Street, which is in front of the Miles Studios, to the Ferry Building.

The origin of the film was a mystery for many decades. It was even believed to be shot in September 1905 after it was dated as such by the Library of Congress. Basically, they just based it on the condition and the appearance of several buildings.

But in 2009 and 2010, David Kiehn, a film historian and the co-founder of Niles Film Museum in Niles, California, said that the film was taken in the spring of 1906. He based his conclusion from the weather records and automobile registrations. He later found other evidence such as promotional materials from the original release of the film, which dated it to April 14, 1906. Eventually, he was able to give credit to the filmmakers—the Miles Brothers.


Watch the footage here.


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