Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Wonder Bread bakery destroyed by 1933 Long Beach earthquake

I came across this item in a miscellaneous collection of found photographs. The snapshot is 4⅞ inches wide, including the borders. This was all that was written on the back, providing my starter clue: "front of Wonder Bread Bakery." The presence of that model of automobile told me I needed to be looking to the first half of the 20th century. And I figured there were only three things that could cause that level of damage:

  • 1. Meteorite
  • 2. Earthquake
  • 3. Thanos

Earthquake seemed like the most obvious place to start. After minimal sleuthing, I confirmed that this is indeed a photo of the Wonder Bread bakery that was destroyed in the 1933 Long Beach, California, earthquake. The 6.4-magnitude temblor led to about 120 deaths and caused numerous buildings to collapse.

Many of the buildings that collapsed were schools, and it was only due to the fortune of the time of the earthquake — just before 6 p.m. — that the schools were mostly empty. If the earthquake had struck in the middle of the school day, there would have been horrific multitudes of casualties. That realization led to the swift passage of the Field Act, which introduced mandatory guidelines for building materials and construction, especially schools, to make them more resistant to earthquakes.

A website focusing on the history of the 1933 earthquake features two other photos, taken by John J. Callahan Jr., of the Wonder Bread building. They seem to be from another angle:

And here's a closeup from my found snapshot...

1 comment:

  1. Mother Nature is a fierce mistress. Also, don't you just wish we could know the stories of all of the people looking at the destruction.