On April 18, 1906 San Francisco was wrecked by a Great Earthquake at 5:13 a.m.. The subsequent seventh Great Fire  burned for four days. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of trapped persons died when South-of-Market tenements collapsed as the ground liquefied beneath them. Most of those buildings immediately caught fire, and trapped victims could not be rescued. The total earthquake death toll topped out at more than 3,000 from all causes. Damage was estimated at $500,000,000 in 1906 dollars. The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 was one of the great natural disasters in American history. The quake and ensuing fire left a city known as the “Paris of the West” in ruins.

The earthquake shock was felt from Coos Bay, Oregon, to Los Angeles, and as far east as central Nevada, an area of about 375,000 square miles, approximately half of which was in the Pacific Ocean. The region of destructive effect extended from the southern part of Fresno County to Eureka, about 400 miles, and for a distance of 25 to 30 miles on either side of the fault zone

And at 3354 Clay Street in downtown San Francisco, John L. (Jack) Tierney and his wife Isabella survived the destruction of the entire city around them. The earthquake occurred just two days before John’s 42 birthday.  In a letter dated April 26, 1906, John wrote his nephew Frank to let him know that he and “Aunt Bella” were OK, albeit Isabella was “very nervous at first, but is getting better”. John went on to write “about five square miles is completely destroyed.  All office buildings, hotels, retail and  jobbing houses are gone – our residential district saved”.

3354 Clay Street as it looks today