San Francisco: 1906 Earthquake and Now – in Composite

Apr 18, 2013 7:00am

Frustrated by what he saw as sloppy then-and-now comparisons, Shawn Clover vowed to do better – and he did.

All images © Shawn Clover.

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Between 2010 and 2012, Clover presented a creative twist to the traditional before-and-after reveal.  Using Photoshop, he blended photos of the devastated city after the April 18, 1906, earthquake with his own present-day images of the same locations.

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Residents stand in Lafayette Park and watch the massive fires engulfing the city.

 

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The Valencia Street Hotel lies in ruins behind a large sinkhole that opened up in the street.

Clover spent years sifting through archival photos and then finding the same spots where the photos were originally taken.  While he was able to employ modern-day technology like Google Maps for help, it was no easy task.

“Where was the exact spot the photographer stood?  What was the equivalent focal length of his camera’s lens combined with the film medium?” said Clover. “How high off the ground was the camera?  Where was the sun in the sky?  Everything needs to be precise when layering two photos [together].”

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Car No. 455 rests halfway in a partially destroyed cable car barn.

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Rubble is strewn on Fifth Street, opposite the United States Mint.  The building did a remarkable job surviving the quake.

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The original adobe Mission Dolores survived, while the brick church next door was destroyed.

 

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The Fairmont Hotel, background, still stands, but the interior was gutted by fires that followed.

 

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Shocked residents walk past the devastation along California Street.

 

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At the corner of Jones and Market Streets, the Hibernia Bank building was gutted but stood strong.

 

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Bent cable car rails protrude from the buckled road on South Van Ness Street, top, and outside the United States Courthouse, below.

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Two girls stand in front of the partially collapsed Sharon Building in Golden Gate Park.

San Francisco native Shawn Clover is working on his book, “Fade to 1906,” which will have higher-quality composites, the stories behind them and detailed personal accounts of events in the city at the time of the earthquake.

See more featured photography curated by ABC News’ Photo Editors, and at Picture This, the ABC News photography blog.

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