Heroes of the Earthquake
The Ferry Building
Every San Franciscan knows the story.
At 5:13 a.m. on Wednesday, April 18, 1906 San Francisco experienced an earthquake like never before. The shaking and the fires that broke out over the following days left 80% of the city destroyed, and 3000 dead: One of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States.
Take a few steps away from the Ferry Building and turn back so you can see the Clock Tower. Though the Ferry Building survived the earthquake, it suffered some damage. In one of the aftershocks of the earthquake the hands of the clock stopped and stood suspended in time at 5:16am for over a year.
Over a century later San Francisco is a thriving city once again. Yet this is still a defining moment in our history and each year we remember that day.
Among the men and women who helped to save the city was Navy Lieutenant Fredrick Freeman, a largely unsung hero, whose actions preserved not only the Ferry building but the entire length of the waterfront.
Today, as we walk I will tell you his story.
VoiceMap uses location aware audio, which means as you walk each track will play automatically. Short stretches of silence are normal. If you get lost you can refer to the map on your screen, but I'll be giving you directions throughout, so you can put your phone in your pocket and enjoy the journey.
Let’s get going! If you're facing the Ferry Building, turn left, and start walking with the building to your right. On most days you will need to take your time, weaving through the bustling crowds, farmers market, and whatever other cultural activities may be on that day.
The Ferry Building you see today opened in 1898. The site was the transport hub for anyone arriving from the East Bay and Marin as well as internationally from the far East.. Without the bridges that span the Bay today Ferry Boat was the only way most travelers could reach the city. At its peak, as many as 50,000 people a day commuted by ferry. It was also where trains and cable cars converged, carrying not only passengers but materials and goods from across the country.
Thanks to the heroic work of Lt. Freeman this area survived the 1906 earthquake. Had it been lost, reconstruction of the city would have been well neigh impossible, without the links to transport materials needed for recovery.