Since its birth after the Mexican-American war of 1846, San Francisco has been through two major fires, a bubonic plague (1900-1904), and several major earthquakes. With so much destruction, I was surprised to find that “The City” has only one major cemetery. After researching the biggest natural disaster where over 3000 people were killed (1906 earthquake), I found that many of the bodies were promptly buried in major parks or open land throughout the city. A firsthand account of personal stories from survivors, rescuers, and eyewitnesses paints a grim image of a city of several thousands of people potentially still buried in its post-disaster foundations:
“Whenever a body was found it was buried immediately without any formality whatever and, as these burials were made at widely separated parts of the city by different bodies of searchers, who did not even make a prompt report to headquarters, considerable confusion resulted in estimating the number of casualties and exaggerated reports resulted.”
At the time, the official death toll was at 500 people buried but the modern account puts it at approximately 3000. This means potentially more than 2500 people are still buried and scattered throughout modern day San Francisco.
In this painting, I wanted to visualize the organic growth and resilience of such a majestic city like San Francisco and how the unpredictable disasters it’s faced in its 173 year history is often altered by time and aggressive real estate. Heavy influences were on historic pictures, earthquake survival stories, and the theme of orange and pink hues painted on buildings throughout the city.
Complete Story of the San Francisco Horror, 1906: https://rb.gy/wcav9z
reely, A.W., 1906, “Special Report of Maj. Gen. Adolphus W. Greely, U.S.A., Commanding the Pacific Division, on the Relief Operations Conducted by the Military Authorities of the United States at San Francisco and other Points”
1906 List of Dead & Survivors (July, 2010): http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist11/list.html