“The full horror of the devastation which last week swept San Francisco and adjacent cities burst upon us. The earthquake which was the ultimate cause of the destruction of the greatest American city on the Pacific coast was incomparably the severest ever recorded in the United States, and was accompanied by the loss of hundreds, if not thousands of lives, and the destruction of property valued at hundreds of millions. The earth tremor destroyed almost the entire water system of the city, and at the present writing San Francisco is the scene of a conflagration.”

Scientific American, April 1906

More gems from Scientific American’s first 175 years can be found on our anniversary archive page.