1989 Quake: Where Were You 23 Years Ago Today?

Is the Bay Area better off after the Loma Prieta earthquake? What would you have done differently in rebuilding the region? Are we better prepared for the next one?

At 5:04 p.m. on Oct. 17, 1989, the ground in Northern California shook.

A lot of the area's attention was focused on the World Series game that was about to start between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics, but suddenly sports was insignificant as a 6.9 quake centered at Loma Prieta near Santa Cruz rocked the Bay Area.

In the quaint cobblestone of downtown Santa Cruz – then known as the Pacific Garden Mall – unreinforced brick tumbled, killing two in the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company and a third in Ford's Department Store.

Much of the downtown was deemed unsafe afterward and knocked down. Businesses moved into tents for years of planning, fights and rebuilding.

In addition, the Marina district in San Francisco was set ablaze when natural gas pipelines broken during the quake.

The Cypress freeway in Oakland crumbled, the top layer landing on the bottom layer and flattening the cars that were moving in between.

What do you remember about the day and the time? How has your life changed?

Have we learned from the disaster and are we better prepared for the next one?

Let us know what you think in our comments section.

terry October 18, 2012 at 10:47 PM
I'll never forget that day! I was In our Hayward Construction yard as the quake rolled through.........I was one of the lead public liaison's for the Alameda Counties office of Emergency Service's. It took several hours before my cell phone started ringing........I was first asked to mobilize equipment to the Cypress Structure in Oakland.........once there the site was beyond imagination. We were working along side the Pennhall Company as they were cutting holes in the deck to extract people, bodies and cars........we moved the cars with bodies to a temporary morgue set up on Wood Street a few blocks away......our company hauled away all of the Concrete Debris as the structures were later dropped to the ground once all the survivors & bodies were extracted. Later that week I was tasked by the Army Corp of Engineers to convert unimproved waterfront property next to the old Todd Ship yards in Alameda into a 1000 space parking lot and dock facility to be used in 48 hours by Ferry's that were being brought in for the Monday Morning Commute do to the fact the Bay Bridge was out of service.....................We moved in our equipment and light plants and started grading the property immediately. 40,000 tons of rock was being hauled as we graded by truck from the now closed Kaiser Pleasanton Quarry 24 hours a day. Monday Morning was wet and raining but they had there parking lot and Ferry dock facility. Not much sleep that week but it was Quite an experience!
Ken Briggs October 18, 2012 at 11:43 PM
I was at the Sunnyvale dump unloading a pickup . I had two friends that were brothers that were truck drivers and one was at one end of the bridge that went down . one was just coming onto that part and the other just got off .
Janice P Ellis October 19, 2012 at 01:07 AM
I remember exactly what I was doing. I had just moved to San Ramon 3 weeks earlier. I had bought many new things for my new home, including a new tv. It sat pretty close to one of the windows in my then livingroom. I had just gotten home from work and turned on the tv to watch the World Series. When the shake, rattle and rolling started, I looked at the tv and it was rocking back and forth. Every time it rocked, it moved closer to going out of the window it was sitting near. At first, I ran over to try to protect my stupid new tv, then I realized, "...you idiot - you had better try to protect yourSELF!" So, I let go of the stupid tv and ran for the nearest doorway. I'll never forget that day.
Jane Buxton October 22, 2012 at 11:14 AM
I was working at Chelsea's Yogurt Shop at the time and the car park betwee us and the cinema was like a river - it was surreal - I'll never ever forget it!!! p.s. Does anyone remember the name of a night club in San Ramon that was open in 1989??? xx
Ken Briggs December 11, 2012 at 01:35 AM
I was at the Sunnyvale dump unloading a pick up with trash ,but lived in east san jose at the time .


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