June 19, 1906 [San Francisco Earthquake films]

Five thousand dead and injured, according to Edison—and one more loss, as he shows us: the city's life, its past, its place against the horizon. It's all ragged and smoking, raw as broken teeth, dotted with lone figures—but also groups, gatherings, either looking on or pitching in, building.

San Francisco needs money. We'll need to pitch in with funds and manpower, engineers and architects, doctors and nurses. I know I'm descending into cliché, but this is an opportunity to draw us together, coast to coast—I saw the beginning of it in the films, the San Franciscans lifting and hauling, re-imagining their homes—still crumbled, but in their hands. And the blunt truth is that our hands must join theirs, just a few yards away up there on the screen.


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