Cliff House Project

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At 5:12 am on the morning of April 18th 1906, an initial shock awakened the residents of San Francisco.  Some 20 to 25 seconds later the great quake hit.  Violent shockwaves rocked the city for some 45 to 60 seconds. The earthquake was felt from southern Oregon to south of Los Angeles and inland as far as central Nevada.  For the next four days the city burned.  Although the exact number will never be known, as many as three thousand people perished from the quake and fires.

While the Cliff House survived the '06 earthquake with only $300 in damages, it was widely reported in the newspapers of the day that it had been washed into the sea...


Contrary to initial reports, the Cliff House survived with only minor damage (see below)...



San Francisco Call - 24 Apr 1906


The below postcard claims to show where refugees camped after the earthquake, but other postcards of the era also repeated the false claim that the Cliff House had slid into the sea.  Wilkins, the manager of the Cliff House at the time offered to house refugees (see above clipping).

"Beach where the homeless refugees camped after the great San Francisco calamity.  Cliff House in distance."


SF Chronicle - 23 Apr 1906


SF Call - 24 April 1906

"Alarm is also felt for the safety of Mrs. Joseph Schwab, sister-in-law of C. M. Schwab.  Mrs. Schwab has been in San Francisco for several weeks.  She was staying at the Cliff House, which is said to have slid into the sea."

This is a very curious article as the Cliff House was NOT a hotel according to all other information.  So how was she staying there?  As a private guest?  Unknown at this time.


SF Chronicle - 24 Jun 1906


San Francisco Call - 25 June 1906


When the Cliff House burned down a year later, postcards sent to family and friends show very clearly the impact the earthquake had on the people of San Francisco...

Gone but not forgotten.  Did not go out to see the ruins as see plenty of that in the city here...     - S.S.L.    Sept 24, 07

Dear Eddie, The powers that be seem determined to clean out the old town and give us a better and greater one.    - W.H. Ford  Oct 2, 07


One of the Cliff House stereoviews has an advertisement "Old Kirk Whisky" in the background. 
Click here for an interesting earthquake related story.



To firmly understand what San Francisco looked like just days before the earthquake, be sure to watch this...



For a great visual reference on the SF Earthquake, I highly recommend David Burkhart's recently published book...

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake & Fire

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