With the 20th anniversary of Loma Prieta upon us, I figured I should create a separate page talking about some multimedia covering the quake. On YouTube there are quite a few videos from October 17, 1989, including a lot of Bay Area news coverage. There’s a guy, Michael Joseph Woody, who was at the Exploratorium at 5:04 with a video camera, and shot about 4 minutes of the scene in the Marina immediately afterward. The Exploratorium did its own Loma Prieta retrospective in ’99, and this page has a story accompanied by some video and images. A surf song and video called “Surf the Earth” about riding out the quake in Santa Cruz can be seen/heard here.
The USGS has a set of pictures of Loma Prieta damage here. There’s some audio of geologist Allan Lindh, of the USGS Menlo Park office, talking about the quake and the San Andreas. Some short audio of Loma Prieta is included in this set of 10 audio clips about the ’89 A’s, Giants, and the quake. A ham radio operator named Eric Tofsrud recorded audio off a Ham station right after the quake. Listen to those four mp3 clips on Eric’s page, with some notes on the recordings from him and a few other Loma Prieta and general quake links. The virtual museum of San Francisco has a few recordings of emergency responders that you will see on their main Loma Prieta page (in RealAudio format).
Alan Rosnov, a professional photographer, went over to Oakland and the Cypress Viaduct on the morning of October 18 and took a few pictures. The Chronicle has collected some of its quake pictures here. A site called PhotoVault has a bunch of Loma Prieta pictures available for license, but you can also see the files for free, with the copyright stamps on them. There are some other earthquake pictures on my ’89 Oakland A’s blog (click “read full post” under the captions to see them).
Also, I took a walk down Mandela Parkway, the path of the Cypress Viaduct, this past winter, and posted some pictures here. The Bay Area Earthquake Alliance has some video and images on its Loma Prieta page (as well as more earthquake stories). The Oakland Tribune and its partner newspapers have put together a sizable retrospective on Loma Prieta. The Santa Cruz Sentinel has done the same.
Finally, the urge to tell your story of Loma Prieta began immediately after the quake, and this blog shows that it hasn’t stopped. Both the Oakland library and the San Francisco library solicited earthquake stories in the weeks after October 17, and if you take a trip to the San Francisco History Center at the downtown S.F. library or the History Room of the downtown Oakland library, you can ask to see the mostly handwritten stories that people sent in. If you have the time and interest in earthquakes and California history (and I assume you do), it’s a special experience to thumb through the pages and read some very vivid accounts that can’t be replicated now, because too much has changed and too much time has passed. The Oakland stories are especially good, if painful, because so many of them respond directly to the Cypress collapse.
As for more online stories, there’s a bunch of places collecting them. Here’s a few: the Chronicle solicited stories from its readers for the 20th anniversary. The Exploratorium has its own archive from the 10th anniversary, as does the Chronicle. There’s a Facebook group seeking stories, and another one, and yet another one as well.
And as for books, you may remember that immediately after Loma Prieta, several organizations put together paperbacks on the earthquake that featured pictures of damage interspersed with quotes, summaries of the damage, and some broader efforts to make sense of what happened. I’ll quickly run them down in case people are interested in buying copies or getting them from a library. The Chronicle’s book is The Quake of ’89, with an introduction by Herb Caen and epilogue by Randy Shilts. All the pictures are black and white, which gives an interesting perspective.
The Tides Foundation put out Fifteen Seconds: The Great California Earthquake of 1989: A Book to Benefit Earthquake Victims. The Los Angeles Times did The 1989 San Francisco Bay Earthquake: Portraits of Tragedy and Courage. Both these books rely mostly, maybe completely, on color pictures, and I remember the Times’ book having a slight outsiders’ feel to it, like they didn’t focus on the right things. And, the United Press International published Earthquake 7.1–San Francisco Bay Area, October 17, 1989, a very thin paperback that I think is staple-bound. I’d recommend Fifteen Seconds and The Quake of ’89 as the two best aftermath books on Loma Prieta. The Quake of ’89 is the only one I have, but I’ve looked through all four of these books. The Santa Cruz Sentinel did its own book on the earthquake, and I don’t remember it very well, including the title, but I believe it’s the only one focused on what happened in and around Santa Cruz
Finally, I know it’s slightly off-topic, but the Library of Congress has a page gathering, as it says, “twenty-six films of San Francisco from before and after the Great Earthquake and Fire, 1897-1916.” You can go here to see the list of 26 films on life before and after the 1906 quake, then read extensive summaries of each clip before deciding whether to watch it.