As fires advanced on the seamier part of San Francisco at the foot of Telegraph Hill, an area known as The Barbary Coast, city firemen made no attempt to save it. Wood plank tables and sawdust littered floors fed the fast-moving flames. In virtually minutes, dancehalls, brothels and bawdy houses frequented by deadbeats, whores, drifters, con men and panhandlers were simply history.
Edwardian women in the early 1900’s wore tall, stiff collars, long skirts and broad hats, often adorned with bird feathers. Their hair was done in full “Gibson Girl” style. The dreaded corset was still used, but mostly by the older set. Young women of the day rebuffed that confining instrument of torture, choosing a variety of sportswear that allowed more freedom of movement and far less discomfort.
The automobile, still a rather new contrivance, played a major role during the aftermath of the Great Quake of 1906. With railroad and street car service destroyed with one swift blow, and the city stretching out for miles, there had to be a means of conquering space. The auto was used to take the dead to the morgue, speed wounded to hospitals, and transport nurses, doctors, city officials, and military officers to varied destinations around San Francisco.
Seventeen minutes after the Great San Francisco Quake hit, nearly 50 fires were reported in the downtown area. But not one fire bell had rung. The Fire Department’s Central Alarm System located in the heart of Chinatown had been wrecked. The first shock broke almost all of the 600 wet-cell batteries that powered the entire system.