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San Francisco, California

Site of 1906 Earthquake Refugee Camps

Approximately 250,000 people left homeless by the great earthquake and fires found shelter in Golden Gate Park 

The earthquake that shook San Francisco in the early morning hours of April 18, 1906 left fires blazing for three days, devastating the city.

Tens of thousands fled the city in the aftermath, but an estimated quarter-million residents were left homeless and approximately 40,000 of them flocked to the relative safety of Golden Gate Park where vast refugee camps were established.

At first chaotic, they were quickly regimented into makeshift towns with orderly rows of tents and small houses designed by park superintendent John McLaren, known as “Earthquake Shacks.”

Today there are a few converted Earthquake Shacks to be found in the western part of the city, all but unrecognizable, as well as one on display at the San Francisco Zoo.

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