Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake ... and the Books It Spawned 100 Years Later

Carl Nolte, a longtime San Francisco Chronicle reporter and a fourth generation San Franciscan, is launching his new book Thursday at a reception at the California Historical Society on Mission Street. The San Francisco Century: A City Rises From the Ruins of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire is a coffee table book filled with pictures of the city’s glories, past and present. There are numerous pictures of the aftermath of the earthquake, but most of the book celebrates San Francisco’s personalities and neighborhoods.

Former Mayor Frank Jordan will never live down the time he took a shower with some radio DJS in his race for mayor; that picture is in Nolte’s book, along with one of Willie Brown dressed like an emperor. There are photos of Abe Ruef, the city’s behind-the-scenes boss before and after the earthquake, and James Rolph, the mayor that latched on to the Progressive movement. Gavin Newsom is in there, too, but there are more pictures of the gays and lesbians who “married” during the city’s brief attempt to legalize gay marriage.

The book is one of a spate of earthquake-related memorials. The Chronicle has already run a series reminding us how unprepared we are for the Big One. Dennis Smith’s book on the earthquake, San Francisco Is Burning, was officially released two days ago. Simon Winchester’s book, A Crack in he Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906, will come out in the beginning of October.

I have been doing research in the California Historical Society recently and have seen numerous reporters come in to research earthquake-related stories. Michael Castleman, who already knows about the earthquake from his novel, The Lost Gold of San Francisco, is doing a piece for Smithsonian. There was a producer for NPR there as well.

The reception for Nolte takes place from 6-9 pm Thursday Sept. 29 at the California Historical Society, 678 Mission Street. It’s right around the corner from the Museum of Modern Art. The Historical Society is a wonderful place; it has a great exhibit up on photographers Eadweard Muybridge and Alice Burr.

In other news …. Dan Wickett and his amazing Emerging Writers Network has yet another e-panel with first time authors. This one is also about publicity.

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