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The Story of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire

By Douglas Westfall
Henry C. Koerper

A First Person Account of America's History
Of the Greatest Natural Disaster in the 20th Century

The 100 year old story of Two Weeks in San Francisco.
With an unpublished account from a young man who survives the earthquake, fire, and dynamite in:

San Francisco's 1906 Earthquake and Fire.

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Two Weeks in San Francisco
The Story of the
1906 Earthquake and Fire

By Douglas Westfall & Henry C. Koerper

8.5 x 11 Softcover
190 pages - 250 Illustrations
-- Based upon first person accounts --
Unpublished Drawings & Maps
100 unpublished Photos from 1906
Plus over 50 Stereoviews

ISBN: 181030-75-2


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The Most Unusual Story of the disaster is found in this book:

Two Weeks in San Francisco

"I pray to God I may never see such wreck and ruin again."
John Alphonso Cook

This is Douglas Westfall, author and publisher of Two Weeks in San Francisco. This Book Talk, is about the story of the disaster, taken from the letters of one man written over a century ago.

The book is a primary collection of over 250 photographs: over 100 previously unpublished from glass plate collections; panoramas from prominent photographers of the time, plus 50 from stereo views. Yet the story itself comes from the postcards and letters, written by Al Cook who lived in the city and stayed to help others.

This is the history of San Francisco’s great disaster of 1906: the earthquake, fire, and dynamite that destroyed four square miles of The City. Then came the torrential rains, gale force winds, and collapsing buildings that continued wreak devastation throughout the following two weeks.

The San Francisco 1906 Burned Area

The earthquake came on the morning of Wednesday April 18th.

-- from the book --

...dawn had not yet fully lit the streets, although some lamps were already going out. Cats ran and hid, and dogs barked in muffled tones.

Horses working their early morning shifts became unsettled in the quiet of daybreak. The Produce District had started to set up, and ferryboats waited in the bay for first light to be able to dock.

The first shudder of the earthquake at 5:12 am was something no living person had ever experienced...

The earthquake that struck destroyed thousands of buildings, and there are many stories that come from the Great Disaster of 1906.

The Sahlein Apartment Building at Polk & Bush

City Hall, taken from Larkin Street looking north.

Was city hall a playground of graft and corruption? New photographs show that even the pillars of the city buildings were hollow -- a testament to the dishonesty of the city fathers. Political corruption rampant before the disaster, continued on even after the calamity.

-- from the book --

Buildings fell in on themselves, and streets caved into the ground. Collapsed masonry was everywhere. All three water mains were crushed beneath the streets.

Dozens of fires started up, and the numerous companies of the Fire Department raced to the different districts. Some 500 firemen were now working feverishly, with only 50 fire wagons to fight more than 50 fires.

Did fire storms incinerate people as they ran from the flames?

Amazing sequence photography shows how maelstroms -- hot tornados -- swept up the wide avenues, leaving smoldering bodies in their wake.

-- from the book --

The Call Building, stood 18 stories high and with its dome reached over 300 feet -- it was The City’s first skyscraper. The interior burned and gave the building an eerie glow in many photographs of the Call on fire.

The San Francisco Fire Department was severely hampered by several developments at the start of the earthquake.

Firestorm near the R. G. Dun and Co. Building

Claus Spreckels Mansion on Van Ness Avenue

Had the dynamiting of so many buildings really caused more fires?

-- from the book --

Dynamiting on Van Ness Avenue helped to save part of The City. As the fire roared up from Chinatown on the second day, it consumed Nob Hill as it headed west. Army officers realized they had to create a major firebreak or lose the rest of The City to flames. 

The opportunity came in the upscale area of Van Ness Avenue. Mansion after mansion lined the 125-foot-wide causeway. The soldiers went from door to door, ensuring that all occupants of the area were moved out, before they dynamited entire blocks along the east side of the avenue.

Then on Saturday -- the fire went out near the Embarcadero. Many people who stayed in The City had lost nearly everything -- their jobs, their homes, their furnishings, their clothing, their cooking utensils.

-- from the book --

Most of what they saved or salvaged, they carried to one of the tent cities stationed throughout The City. So much had been lost by fire, if not the initial earthquake, and then it rained.

There are thousands of photos on the Earthquake and Fire but in no one publication are there so many unpublished, and professionally taken photographs. Also in no book are there so many full-sized stereo views.

Valancia Street cave in from 19th Street looking north

Letter written by Al Cook

After the rain subsided, winds blew through the City. Wet ash covered everything then buildings started to fall.

Read the personal letters that covered fourteen days of the calamity, discover the heroism of Al Cook as he risks his life to save an infant child, and grasp the understanding of the devastations to the great City -- that left a quarter of a million people homeless.

See the professional photographs that grace the pages. All come from private collections, including those from well known photographer Edith Irvine.

These photographs were discovered within the year before publication -- over half were unknown -- and over 100 had never before been published.

View in 3-D San Francisco’s 1906 Earthquake and Fire. Included within the book are more than 50 stereo views from Keystone, Whiting, and Smith.

Also from professionals Blumberg, Lawrence, Pilsbury, & Strohmeier are wide panoramic photographs -- never together before in one publication. The effect is a panoply of imagery woven together by a personal story -- itself an unpublished work.

The Call Building on fire

F. E. Strohmeier panorama taken from the Post Office rooftop after The Fire, looking north.

Publisher Douglas Westfall

Two Weeks in San Francisco represents the exhaustive research by the Authors, both nationally known for their works. It is also the absolute epitome of photographic renditions of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire.

The publication is the only book to bring together three types of professional photography of the disaster, and is the only one to contain an entire single story by a first person account.

This book will undoubtedly enhance everything you have ever read or seen on the great disaster and provides the only proof of the real reason the water mains did not supply water to fight the fire.

Lavishly illustrated with maps, drawings, and photography,
this is an incredible read.

This is Douglas Westfall and I write and publish books on America's History. Order your copy of this book now.

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-- Instant Book Purchase * --

Two Weeks in San Francisco
The Story of the
1906 Earthquake and Fire

By Douglas Westfall & Henry C. Koerper

8.5 x 11 Softcover
190 pages - 250 Illustrations
-- Based upon first person accounts --
Unpublished Drawings & Maps
100 unpublished Photos from 1906
Plus over 50 Stereoviews

ISBN: 181030-75-2


Thank you for shopping with

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This is the only book on San Francisco's 1906 Earthquake and Fire with full-size Stereo views. Stereo glasses are included free with each book, but only while supplies last.
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