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See, Hear and Sing Disasters, Devastation and Destruction

A screen shot from 'San Francisco Disaster,' 1906.

A scene from "San Francisco Disaster," a re-creation of the 1906 earthquake

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San Francisco Earthquake
Have you ever seen a movie based on a real life disaster? Films that re-created a disaster and pretended it was actual footage became very popular, and the depiction of the San Francisco earthquake was no exception. In this film, which was shot in a studio in New York City, you see a small-scale model of downtown San Francisco and fires that destroyed much of the city. Although the producers probably wanted viewers to believe this was the real event, in actuality the fires were more widely scattered than the ones in the film and the flames never got quite that big. Today, special effects makes things look much more realistic than they did when movies were just beginning. Would you have believed this was the real thing, or would you know it was a re-creation of the event?
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VIDEO CREDIT: American Mutoscope and Biograph Company. "San Francisco Disaster." 1906. Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897-1916, Library of Congress.