For three days and nights, San Francisco ferryboats carried survivors of the great earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906, to safety. Their captains and crew in many cases did not know the fate of their own loved ones.
On the day the quake hit, artist W.A. Coulter pulled a 10-foot window shade from the burning rubble and painted the image called simply "San Francisco Fire, 1906." It also has been called "Evacuation of San Francisco by Sea."
On Tuesday, the 100th anniversary of the quake, an exhibition of Coulter's work opens at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Called "W.A. Coulter: An Artist's Brush with the Sea," it will include the rarely-seen painting, a detail of which appears above at left, which captured one of America's worst disasters.
A reproduction of the full painting and other images from the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 can be viewed at http://www.sfmuseum.org/1906/photos.html.