Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Fiddling With Lens as a City Burned

By CAROL KINO @ New York Times
SOON after Oct. 17, 1989, I stood on a hill in San Francisco, watching as my apartment and all my worldly possessions burned to the ground in the aftermath of the Loma Prieta earthquake. A photographer had already captured me for posterity, sobbing as I saw the smoldering rubble of my building for the first time, and for a while, photographers seemed to attend my and my neighbors' every move, whether we were scavenging the remains of our building or waiting in Red Cross lines.

The earthquake had effectively wiped away our collective history, but at times I had the weird sense that another sort of history had sprung to life. Our travails seemed to parallel events that I had seen many times before, in photographs of the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. As it turns out, my sense of déjà vu was right: that quake, a 7.8 temblor that left the city burning for four days, is considered to have been the world's first widely photographed disaster.


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