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Recovery and Reform
 

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Once the flames died out, San Franciscans began returning to their city. Soon hopeful signs appeared announcing the reopening of businesses. It was a forgone conclusion — San Francisco would rebuild. Even Chinatown, which many reformers wished to see eliminated, remained. Over the next few years, reconstruction of commercial and residential neighborhoods proceeded quickly, and by the end of the decade, physical reminders of the disaster were few.

During the reconstruction, San Franciscans also sought to reform their government. Pre-quake charges of political corruption gained new urgency. One of those caught in the net of reform was Mayor Schmitz. Despite his success in handling the disaster of April 1906, a jury convicted Schmitz of extorting money from businesses and he went to prison.


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Reconstruction underway at 4th and market in San Francisco's devastated downtown.

Reconstruction underway at 4th and market in San Francisco's devastated downtown.

Enterprising businessmen in San Francisco and the East Bay saw ways to turn the disaster to their advantage.

Enterprising businessmen in San Francisco and the East Bay saw ways to turn the disaster to their advantage.

Former Mayor Schmitz unsuccessfully appealed his extortion conviction.

Former Mayor Schmitz unsuccessfully appealed his extortion conviction.

Sunset Magazine, two years after, April 1908

Sunset Magazine, two years after, April 1908

While San Francisco struggled to reestablish its prominence following the 1906 disaster, to the south another metropolis was rising amid orange groves and palm trees.  Earthquake shy investors believed (wrongly, it turned out) that Southern California offered a more stable environment.  By the middle of the twentieth century, much of the wealth and influence that marked pre-earthquake San Francisco had shifted to Los Angeles.

While San Francisco struggled to reestablish its prominence following the 1906 disaster, to the south another metropolis was rising amid orange groves and palm trees. Earthquake shy investors believed (wrongly, it turned out) that Southern California offered a more stable environment. By the middle of the twentieth century, much of the wealth and influence that marked pre-earthquake San Francisco had shifted to Los Angeles.



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