Legends of the Hill: After the Quake

By Terry Milne

The 1906 Earthquake and Fire. After, the aim of all civic endeavors at the time was the rapid recovery from these twin disasters. Barely one month after the quake, this May 1906 photograph shows men replacing water pipes on Alabama Street at 26th Street looking south toward Bernal Hill. (The water line installation follows the same route along Alabama the water supply from Portola Reservoir takes through Mission today.) The sheds in the street around which the trench meanders are earthquake kitchens: martial law prohibited indoor cooking to prevent people from starting further fires. The hay and grain business and grocery store operated by Peter Curtis and James Donovan until 1910 can be seen on the left. In the rear, Alabama Street climbs the hill’s sparsely inhabited north side.

April 18 is the anniversary of that cataclysmic quake and conflagration; each year, a celebration breaks out at Lotta's Fountain to commemorate the shaking of the earth that changed San Francisco forever. The Fire Department, Police Department (and assorted history eccentrics) gather to honor the very few living survivors of 1906 and this year it is hoped that Bernal's own Rose Cliver from Gates Street will be able to show up. Her memories from when she was three of the event and its aftermath will add to the many stories already shared of that long-ago catastrophe.

This article originally appeared in the April/May 2010 issue of theNew Bernal Journal.