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Remarkable Video from 1906 Shows San Fran’s Market Street Days Before the Earthquake

When four brothers from San Francisco decided to film footage of Market Street all the way back in 1906, they probably had no idea that it would be getting watched over a century later. It can be credited to the perfect timing of the footage, which was filmed on April 14, 1906, four days before the infamous earthquake and resulting fires that destroyed 80% of the city.

Harry, Herbert, Earle, and Joe Herbert are the men behind the footage, which was filmed on a hand-cranked Ben & Howell camera. The camera was attached to the front of a streetcar that made the journey from the front of Miles Studios on 8th Street, eventually stopping at the Ferry building on Market Street. They would have no idea that much of the images captured on their film would give an amazing insight into a time long since passed, particularly when so much of the area would be rebuilt following the earthquake. Interestingly enough, the Library of Congress had originally dated the footage wrong, thinking it was September of the previous year 1905 due to the construction of the buildings in the film.

This was debunked only recently in 2009 and 2010 after David Kiehn reviewed the footage. A film historian, he placed the date to its original time, which was matched thanks to vehicle registration and weather reports that had been recorded – with the video being recorded in the spring of 1906. This was confirmed when promotional items from the original film showed the precise date of April 14th. It was also given the first acknowledgment of the footage, which rightfully goes to the four Miles brothers.