The Collective Picture

Vintage Photography Redefined

admin On February - 28 - 2010

It has been over a month since the earthquake hit Haiti, the shock over the devastation seems to have moved into a focus on the long-term support that is needed to facilitate recovery. But yesterday (Saturday, February 27 2010) the world was pulled back into the state of crisis that surrounds a natural disaster as an earthquake hit Chile. The earthquake in Haiti was recorded at a magnitude of 7.0, lower then the 8.8 that was felt in Chile. Yet the devastation and loss of life was significantly higher in Haiti, with a death toll now estimated at over 200,000. This most recent disaster in Chile is the second largest to hit the country, rivaled only by the 1960 earthquake that was recorded at a magnitude of 9.6. The devastating effect of the 1960 earthquake served as a catalyst to tighten building code requirements, which saved lives during this more recent disaster. These events in Haiti and Chile should give further proof to the importance of disaster preparedness, a point that will hopefully be taken to heart for the groups that have pledged support to rebuild Haiti.

For me the importance of preventing the kind of devastation that occurred in Haiti isn’t well displayed by magnitude scale recordings and stats on infrastructure damage. What makes these events so real is the fact that we live in an era where we quickly have access to images documenting a crisis. The connection we have to these disasters exist, in part, because of the vivid photographs of the devastation that stream across the airwaves within hours of an event. The role of these images show the importance of a photographic record, not just to bring awareness of a crisis but to contextualize the realities of these experiences in a way that magnitude numbers don’t seem to grasp. Here are some images from the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco and the 1926 earthquake in Palestine; a photographic record of natural disasters that, in a hundred years, will likely include some of the striking images that have come out of Haiti.

1906 san francisco earthquake fire truck Image of an Earthquakeenvironment

c1906, June 8. Block of burned buildings in San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake with fire truck spraying water on them.

http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c13371

1906 down market st. phelan building san francisco earthquake Image of an Earthquakeenvironment

c1906. Down Market St., Phelan Bldg. in foreground, San Francisco, Cal. Detroit Publishing Company. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/det.4a13227

1906 foot of market street earthquake san francisco Image of an Earthquakeenvironment

c1906. Foot of Market Street, showing earthquake upheaval, San Francisco, Cal. Detroit Publishing Company Photograph Collection. Library of Congress http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/det.4a13221

1906 san francisco chinatown Image of an Earthquakeenvironment

c1906. Edge of Chinatown, San Francisco, Cal. Detroit Publishing Co. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs

http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/det.4a13215

1906 ruins earthquake san francisco city hall Image of an Earthquakeenvironment

c1906. Ruins of earthquake, damaged San Francisco City Hall. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c13370

1927 palestine earthquake winter palace hotel jericho Image of an Earthquakeenvironment

1927 July. Palestine events. The earthquake of July 11, 1927. Wreckage of the Winter Palace Hotel, Jericho. A complete collapse. G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/matpc.03034

1927 palestine earthquake fallen houses nablus Image of an Earthquakeenvironment

1927 July. Palestine events. The earthquake of July 11, 1927. Blocked-up street in Nablus, choked by fallen houses which entombed many inhabitants. G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection. Library of Congress http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/matpc.03042

1927 palestine earthquake land cracking dead sea Image of an Earthquakeenvironment

1927 July. Palestine events. The earthquake of July 11, 1927. Deep fissures or land openings near the Dead Sea, caused by the earthquake. G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/matpc.03039

1927 palestine earthquake wrecked house Image of an Earthquakeenvironment

1927 July. Palestine events. The earthquake of July 11, 1927. Wrecked dwelling house on Olivet. In which three people were killed. G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection. Library of Congress http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/matpc.03030

1927 earthquake damage men Image of an Earthquakeenvironment

1927 July. Earthquake damage. G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection. Library of Congress http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/matpc.10441

1927 earthquake damage Image of an Earthquakeenvironment

1927 July Earthquake damage. G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/matpc.10434

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