The story of a quake, a fire, and a city.

The City that Rocked

the story of a city, a quake, and the aftermath

By William Chiappetta

The City

that Rocked 

by William Chiappetta

people asleep


all nestled in bed


some tossing and turning


till a moment of dread.

the houses all tremble


people all scream


the heaviest sleepers

wake up from their dreams


fires break out


red in the sky


children are fearful


some of them cry


the earthquake stops


fires still burning


now people's emotions


are tossing and turning.

chaos ongoing


many are dead


nowhere to go


yet families still fled


firefighters trying


but to no avail


so they blew up buildings


in the fire’s trail

more fires now


explosions ongoing


police and authorities


have trouble controlling

they shut down the bars


and told soldiers to shoot


people trying to steal


the innocent’s loot


the military helped


with barges of water


they sprayed on the fires


so they couldn’t get hotter


slowly but surely


the fires went out


the city would pull through


without a doubt

memories fresh


of buildings collapse


but was it for the better?


maybe… perhaps…


san francisco construction


ongoing a new


some filled with hope


as the city grew

but people are living


in small wooden shacks


all aware


of the homeliness it lacks





troubles old and new



but they tromp through it



and no one is blue

the small little shacks


all over the nation


housing the people


twas quite a sensation

the new city would


be magnificent they said


everyone happy


with nothing to dread

slowly but surely


the huts were diminished


people moving to the city


the shack life was



everyone happy


new houses to boot


everyone safe


worth a holler or hoot


although there were




and setbacks too


everything is ok now

san francisco starts a new

and so came an end



to the great quake


lets hope it won’t happen again


for goodness sake

Author's Note


“There was practically nothing left…”


It was a warm morning on April 18th, 1906. many people were just waking up when it happened. At 5:12am, the earthquake began to rock san francisco furiously. The earthquake had a magnitude of about 7.8, and an amplitude of 3 Inches. The earthquake itself only lasted about 45 - 60 seconds long, but the chaos was ongoing. The earthquake started many fires, which were spreading at an alarming rate.


Due to the annihilation of the piping that connected the fire hydrants, and other reliable sources of water. The firefighters decided the best choice would be to demolish the buildings in the path of theblazing inferno. In the end, the plan had backfired and the inexperienced explosives team ignited even more fires.


One of the fires was surprisingly started when a woman’s chimney, recently half destroyed by the quake, restricted smoke from rising out when she tried to cook ham and eggs. The same fire ended up being the biggest blaze out of them all, and caused the devastating end to 30 blocks worth of buildings.


People were trapped in the city by rubble, and the only  way out was by a ferry boat. It was a mad rush to board a single one of them. The fires were still raging on, and it did not look like they would stop soon. The mayor ended up saying it was ok to kill anyone who tried to commit any act of thievery, and to shut down every single bar in the city, so no drunk men and women could run rampant on the streets. This helped, making sure every single fireman could focus on fires, and not uncontrollable citizens.


700,000 people were now homeless. 3000 were dead. And it was not yet the end of the hardships. To help, the army made relief houses - small cramped cottages to house citizens left without homes -  and placed them all over the state. The cottages were very small, and ontop of that, the chinese population of san francisco was being discriminated, and were being passed around camps across the country.

Although it took awhile san francisco was up and running again by 1915, and was much improved from the disorganized mining town it once was.