Through The Fire


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Raya Leary's History Presentation.

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Through The Fire

  1. 1. From The Ashes a look at how disaster shaped a nation By: Raya Leary
  2. 2. What am I looking at? Examining the Great Fires in Seattle, San Francisco, and the “Great Fire of 1910” I want to determine the impacts, both short and long term, on the culture and development of the western United States. A display of photos from The Great Seattle Fire. Displayed on a wall in Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour: Pioneer Square, Seattle, Wa.
  3. 3. Why is it important? <ul><li>It’s an excellent outlet to examine the drive of resources in industrial times, and how it explains the current population and continued growth of areas like San Francisco, even after it was reduced to blocks of foundation. </li></ul><ul><li>Specific to The Great Fire of 1910, we learn how and why wildfire divisions were first formed. </li></ul><ul><li>It really brings to focus how and why we have building codes and similar regulations enacted in this country. </li></ul><ul><li>Most interestingly, you can examine the way that industry was destroyed or, as we’ll see in some cases; developed, as a result of these disasters. </li></ul>The Skeleton of San Francisco, post-fire. Source:
  4. 4. What’s really being said? <ul><li>These three historic events hover around the concepts of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Industrialism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dependence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disaster </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- And - </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The economy’s implicit bond with urban America </li></ul></ul>RIGHT: Idaho Mountains after the fire of 1910. Source: LEFT: A stack of plates melted together by The Great Seattle Fire. On display at The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) Seattle, Wa. Source:
  5. 5. The History: Seattle’s Business District Dies <ul><li>The fire began in a woodworking shop on the then intersection of Front Street and Madison Avenue, where a glue pot bubbled over and caught the woodchips in the shop on fire. </li></ul><ul><li>The afternoon was on June 6 th , and it was hot, so the fire spread quickly through the whole block. </li></ul><ul><li>There were several problems that led to inefficiency in extinguishing the fire: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The heat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The fact that the city of Seattle ran on a volunteer fire department </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hydrants in the city were every other block, and attached to small basic water pipes, with very little pressure. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>By the next morning, the fire had destroyed 29 city blocks, four piers, all of the railway stations and the entire business district. </li></ul><ul><li>WATCH THIS! </li></ul><ul><li>An EXCELLENT Ten-minute documentary on The Great Seattle Fire </li></ul>
  6. 6. The aftermath. source: University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections
  7. 7. The Aftermath: Seattle’s Business District Dies <ul><li>The city began rebuilding, as opposed to relocating, almost immediately. </li></ul><ul><li>It destroyed the economy of the city, who now lacked nearly all of it’s business. </li></ul><ul><li>The fire did a great service by reducing the amount of rats and other vermin. </li></ul><ul><li>It caused the area to be rebuilt with buildings of brick and stone as opposed to wood. To help prevent future fire. </li></ul><ul><li>One huge benefit, was the influx of residents as hired help to rebuild, and deliver supplies. It grew the cities population by up to 40,000, making it the largest city in Washington, thus, making it an attractive destination for a terminal along the Great Northern Railroad- a huge economic stimulus. </li></ul><ul><li>The city adopted an official Fire Department, replacing the volunteer one. </li></ul><ul><li>Structural changes were made, increasing the size of water mains, adding more hydrants. </li></ul><ul><li>QUICK LINK: </li></ul><ul><li>A look at how the fire changed architecture in the city </li></ul>
  8. 8. Trying to attack the fire as it began. Source: University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections
  9. 9. The History: San Francisco Shakes & Burns <ul><li>The catastrophic earthquake hit San Francisco at 5:12 am on April 18 th , 1906. </li></ul><ul><li>However, the exact time of the fire’s are unknown, as there were over 30 of them, igniting at different times, as a result of broken gas mains from the earthquake and misuse of dynamite by the fire department. </li></ul><ul><li>Even though a lot of historical text refers to it as an earthquake-related disaster, the fires were known to have caused 90% of the damage to the city [as you’ll see in the photographs] </li></ul><ul><li>The fires were hard to fight, because as well as the breaking of gas mains, so was the breaking of water mains, limiting Firefighters resources. </li></ul><ul><li>There were only a few hundred in the official death toll at the time, but it is estimated that it actually exceeded 3,000. With a current damage cost of over $6.5 billion dollars. </li></ul><ul><li>WATCH THIS! </li></ul><ul><li>Actual footage from the earthquake/fire </li></ul>
  10. 10. The city on fire. Source: C alifornia State Library. Sacramento, California
  11. 11. The Aftermath : San Francisco Shakes & Burns <ul><li>There were some 225,000 to 300,000 homeless residents. To whom, banks were unable to provide funds, because of the time it took to cool their vaults. </li></ul><ul><li>A smaller bank; Bank of Italy, who didn’t have a vault, was able to circulate their funds immediately, and help restoration. The bank then grew tremendously, it is now Bank of America. </li></ul><ul><li>The residents of Chinatown went largely ignored by both fire prevention, and displacement efforts on the part of the city. </li></ul><ul><li>Strict building codes were placed on contractors as the city was being rebuilt, in an attempt to prepare for a similar disaster. Just over a year later the city lapsed their building codes to 50% below the pre-disaster standard. </li></ul><ul><li>If an earthquake slightly less powerful than in 1906 hit the city today, many areas would be decimated, and the loss would be thousands of lives, as a result of the bent building codes. </li></ul><ul><li>QUICK LINK: http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Read 1906 newspaper articles regarding the fire. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Sacramento Street burning. Source:
  13. 13. An “earthquake intensity” map of the area. Source: San Francisco Museum Online Archives
  14. 14. The History: Wildfire, 1910 <ul><li>Believed to be the largest fire in US history </li></ul><ul><li>It covered about three million acres [mostly forest], and completely destroyed 9 towns, and killed 87 people. </li></ul><ul><li>It lasted through the days of August 20 th and 21 st 1910. </li></ul><ul><li>The details of how the fire started are still sketchy, although most believe it was caused by a storm, subsequent lightning, and winds. </li></ul><ul><li>Despite the fire falling under one name, most everywhere, there were actually many small fires, in the thousands, that just happened to be a part of two day’s disaster. </li></ul><ul><li>QUICK LINK: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>a historians view on the second of the “top ten disasters in the last century” </li></ul>
  15. 15. The Aftermath: Wildfire, 1910 <ul><li>Fire suppression techniques were developed and used after this time. Most of which proved unsuccessful in the next forest fire, but did provide a base for today's methods. </li></ul><ul><li>It was later found out, that of the death toll, 78 were firefighters . Prompting a look into the technological advancement of a firefighters uniform. </li></ul><ul><li>The event encouraged congress to invest money for fighting forest fires. </li></ul><ul><li>QUICK LINK: </li></ul><ul><li>CNN talks about influential fires, features 1910 Wildfire. </li></ul>
  16. 16. What would have happened had these fires not occurred? <ul><li>Seattle: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Water mains would have been left undeveloped, A bigger disaster would have occurred from this later on. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The population would have taken much longer to grow, meaning the GNR would not have made a terminal in Seattle. And Portland would have out-developed us, becoming the biggest in the northwest today. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Downtown Seattle architecture would be more ornate. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Overall, we would be a smaller, quainter, city. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>San Francisco: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The city would have gone without knowledge of the land’s destructive possibilities. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They never would have improved the cities hydrant system. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bank of America would surely not exist today. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Building codes would have gone un-enforced. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The population might even be bigger. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Great Fire: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It would take longer for fire fighters equipment to be developed further. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The country would be under prepared for future forest fires, a bigger disaster would befuddle us because of this. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Congress wouldn’t have agreed to cache money for fighting wildfires until they became a problem. </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Parallels between the impact of all three fires, and the impact of Hurricane Katrina. <ul><li>We have the national Wildfire Suppression Association </li></ul><ul><li>Camp sites now had to be designated. </li></ul>n/a <ul><li>Destroyed 9 tows and burned 3 million acres. </li></ul><ul><li>Caused congress to invest money in wildfire prevention. </li></ul><ul><li>Cost 1 million dollars worth of damage at the time. </li></ul>1910 Wildfire <ul><li>Stricter guidelines and diligence were mandated for the levee </li></ul><ul><li>Building codes were strengthened, then severely lapsed. </li></ul><ul><li>Building codes were revised. </li></ul>Law revision <ul><li>A sense of community was initially destroyed; came back stronger. </li></ul><ul><li>Death toll was concealed, started a campaign for truth. </li></ul><ul><li>Decimated Chinatown. </li></ul><ul><li>Buildings were given a “bland” makeover. </li></ul>Cultural change <ul><li>There are continuing reconstruction efforts. </li></ul><ul><li>There is untold amount of unsafe buildings, still existing today. </li></ul><ul><li>City water mains are servicing nicely. </li></ul><ul><li>Downtown buildings lack a more flamboyant flair. </li></ul>Lasting Impact <ul><li>Destroyed many areas in the southern United States </li></ul><ul><li>Caused the Louisiana levee to be rebuilt </li></ul><ul><li>Gave Los Angles more port traffic. </li></ul><ul><li>Water mains and hydrants were reworked. </li></ul><ul><li>Attraction of local skill-workers to Seattle. </li></ul><ul><li>A permanent fire department was established </li></ul><ul><li>Water mains and hydrants were repaired, reworked and expanded. </li></ul>Regional impact <ul><li>Prompted innumerable efforts to help with displaced residents. </li></ul><ul><li>Drained national funds for clean-up </li></ul><ul><li>The addition of a terminal for the great northern railroad </li></ul>National impact <ul><li>Caused 89.6 billion dollars worth of damage </li></ul><ul><li>Ruined the city’s economy. </li></ul><ul><li>A stronger workforce </li></ul><ul><li>Increased population </li></ul><ul><li>Other business was virtually wiped out </li></ul>Economic effects Hurricane Katrina San Francisco Fire Great Seattle Fire Themes
  18. 18. Sources Cited <ul><li>Nelson, Erik (Executive Producer). (2006). San Francisco Earthquake [Television series episode]. In Mega Disasters. Seattle: A&E Television Networks [History Channel]. </li></ul><ul><li>Petersen, Jim (Winter 1994-1995). The 1910 Fire. Retrieved February 5th, 2009, from Idaho Forest Products Commission Web site: </li></ul><ul><li>Devlin , Sherry (2000). Taming &quot;The Dragon&quot;. The Missoulian, Retrieved February 3rd, 2009, from </li></ul><ul><li>The Great Seattle Fire. Retrieved February 4th, 2009, from University of Washington: Digital Collection Web site: </li></ul><ul><li>Crowley , Walt (2003, January, 25). Seattle burns down in the Great Fire on June 6, 1889. History Link, Retrieved February 9th, 2009, from </li></ul><ul><li>Mcgough, Hugh (2008, August 11th). The Great Seattle Fire—Don't Blame Jimmie McGough. Retrieved February 9th, 2009, from Magoo Web site: </li></ul><ul><li>“ A Great Civic Drama”. Retrieved February 10th, 2009, from The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco Web site: </li></ul><ul><li>(2008, July 16th). The Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Retrieved February 16, 2009, from U.S. Geological Survey Web site: </li></ul>
  19. 19. Sources Cited cont’d <ul><li>(2008, July 16th). Casualties and damage after the 1906 Earthquake. Retrieved February 16, 2009, from U.S. Geological Survey Web site: </li></ul><ul><li>Tobriner, Stephen (2006, April 18th). What really happened in San Francisco in the earthquake of 1906. 100th Anniversary Earthquake Conference, Retrieved February 11th, 2009, from </li></ul><ul><li>Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906: Its Effects on Chinatown. Retrieved February 11th, 2009, from Chinese Historical Society of America Web site: </li></ul><ul><li>(1906, April, 8). Over 500 Dead, $200,000,000 Lost in San Francisco Earthquake. New York Times, Retrieved February 9th, 2009, from </li></ul><ul><li>Grunwalk, Michael, & Glasser, Susan B. (2005). Experts Say Faulty Levees Caused Much of Flooding. The Washington Post, Retrieved February 16, 2009, from </li></ul><ul><li>Williams, Paul (2005, September 10). Katrina may cost as much as four years of war. MSNBC News, Retrieved February 9th, 2009, from </li></ul><ul><li>(2007, February, 12). HURRICANE KATRINA — MOST DESTRUCTIVE HURRICANE EVER TO STRIKE THE U.S.. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Retrieved February 8th, 2009, from </li></ul>
  20. 20. Sources Cited cont’d <ul><li>Levin, Jake (2007). [Video] The Great Seattle Fire. National History Day 2007. Retrieved February 3rd, 2009, from </li></ul>
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