Buffalo, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo's Multidisciplinary
Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER) Information
Service is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the devastating
1906 earthquake with a major exhibit, "A City in Ruins: The San
Francisco Earthquake and Fires of 1906."
The exhibit, which is free and open to the public, is located on
the first floor of the Undergraduate Library on the UB North
(Amherst) Campus until May 31st, when it will move to Lockwood
Library, where it will remain through the summer.
The earthquake on April 18, 1906, and the ensuing fires killed
at least 3,000 people, left more than 200,000 people homeless and
destroyed half of San Francisco, which was then the largest city in
California and the financial and cultural heart of the western
Writing the day after he experienced the earthquake, author Jack
London stated simply: "Not in history has a modern imperial city
been so completely destroyed. San Francisco is gone."
That quote and others from famous witnesses to the tragedy,
including opera star Enrique Caruso, actor John Barrymore and
photographer Ansel Adams, are featured in the exhibit.
The exhibit also consists of seven display cases containing
numerous dramatic images from UB's and MCEER's collections. The
images show the devastation the quake and subsequent fires caused
to buildings and neighborhoods, the tent cities that sprang up, the
food lines, and the faces of children and families left homeless by
One display case focuses on Chinatown, the devastation that the
community experienced and efforts by the city's officials to
repossess it following the quake because it was located in one of
the city's most desirable areas.
The social and humanitarian crises that resulted also are
depicted through images and descriptions.
The exhibit provides a perspective on how architectural
landmarks fared, including the San Francisco City Hall, which
recently had undergone a $7 million, 10-year renovation; it was
In addition, information on how the quake changed forever how
communities prepare for, and respond to earthquakes is featured,
including the response at the time by insurance providers.
The exhibit highlights UB's close connections to earthquake
engineering and mitigation, as the home of the Multidisciplinary
Center for Earthquake Engineering Research, the MCEER Information
Service, and one of the nation's most sophisticated earthquake
"This exhibit provides us with an opportunity to showcase the
efforts of both MCEER and its Information Service in conducting
research and providing an avenue for education and outreach in
mitigating disasters of all types," said exhibit curator Sofia A.
Tangalos, an MCEER senior program officer.
She noted that MCEER has been involved actively in multihazard
reconnaissance efforts following Hurricane Katrina, the Asian
tsunami and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade
The exhibit was developed by Tangalos and Jill Tarabula, MCEER
Information Specialist and David Pierro, MCEER graphic designer.
Nancy Schiller, associate librarian, Science and Engineering
Library, Peggy Pajak of the Preservation Department of the UB
Libraries and staff at the Educational Technology Center also made
important contributions to the exhibit.
UB's Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering
Research Information Service is a comprehensive source for
information on earthquake engineering, earthquake hazards
mitigation, disaster preparedness, and related topics.
Founded in 1986, the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake
Engineering Research headquartered at UB is a national center of
excellence in advanced technology applications dedicated to
reducing losses from earthquake and other hazards nationwide. One
of three such centers in the nation established by the National
Science Foundation, MCEER has been funded principally over the past
20 years with $68 million from the NSF, $36 million from the State
of New York and $26 million from the Federal Highway
Administration. Additional support comes from the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, other state governments, academic institutions,
foreign governments and private industry.