It might be hard to fathom the devastation caused by the 1906 earthquake and fire in San Francisco. The statistics on the destruction are so overwhelming that they’re almost unbelievable. According to the U.S.G.S.:
- More than 3,000 people died
- 225,000 were left homeless
- 28,000 buildings were destroyed
- The earthquake caused more than $400 million in property damage – that’s in 1906 dollars
You can get a better sense of that devastation through “1906 + Today: the Earthquake Blend,” a two-part project by amateur San Francisco photographer Shawn Clover. Clover, 40, blends historic photos of the damage caused by the 1906 earthquake and fire with photos of the same location today. He released the first part of the project in 2010; part two was posted online this month and has been generating online buzz this week.
The project began with Clover tracking down publicly-available photos of the destruction caused by the fire and matching them to the location in San Francisco at which they were shot. He’d then load the photos into his tablet computer, go to the location and try and match the original shot through the viewfinder of his camera. When he had the right shot, he would blend it with the old photo using Photoshop and other computer programs.
“When I did the first few, I looked at them and I though, this happened before and this can happen again,” Clover said. “You see a picture of a lady getting in a Mercedes, and in 1906 there were dead horses lying around that spot.”
He said word about the first part of his project spread through Facebook after it was posted in 2010, but fizzled in a few weeks. When part two was posted on Aug. 17, there was little reaction.
Then, on Wednesday, the local blog Burrito Justice picked it up. It’s since been linked to in the San Francisco section of Reddit, a dynamic online community. And today it was the focus of a post on the website for the U.K. newspaper the Daily Mail.
“Now I’ve got the motivation to do (part three). I’ve got a lot of people asking if there would be prints or a book,” said Clover, whose day job is as a web application development team leader. “It would be nice to get it all in a book if I could.”
Here are a few more of Clover’s works from “1906 + Today.”