SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — More than a century after San Francisco’s deadly 1906 earthquake, a film reel with nine minutes of footage capturing the city two weeks after the devastation surfaced at a flea market and it will soon be shown to the public, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The long-lost find portrays some of the city’s post-quake decimation, including City Hall with its dome nearly destroyed, the Chronicle said Saturday. Much of the city was flattened and thousands were killed in the so-called “Great Quake” and ensuing fire on April 18, 1906.

The nitrate film reel discovered at San Francisco’s Alemany Flea Market was shot by early filmmakers the Miles Brothers.

The footage was sold to Jason Wright, a film historian currently living in England, but from the Bay Area, who recognized its significance and partnered with David Kiehn, a film historian at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont, to restore the film.

The footage is a bookend to their most famous work “A Trip Down Market Street,” a 13-minute silent film shot from a cable car days before the earthquake, said film historian David Kiehn.

The new footage captures a similar journey down the city’s main thoroughfare but shows many of the buildings collapsed to the ground. The reel also features a mob of horse wagons and carts, people waiting to get on a ferry to cross San Francisco Bay to Oakland and damaged buildings being blown up with dynamite.

“Miles Brothers footage shot after the earthquake is extremely difficult to find,” Kiehn told the Chronicle.

They shot nearly two hours of post-quake film but almost none of it had been known to survive, he said.

Kiehn has spent the past eight months preparing a digital version that will premiere at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum on April 14, just a few days shy of the quake’s anniversary

© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report

Comments (4)
  1. For crying out loud, “surfaced at a flea market”? That’s all they got?? The lost 1906 film didn’t just “surface” by itself! It was found by David Silver, an important expert on photo history for many years, the president of the International Photographic Historical Organization, and a major trusted dealer and appraiser and consignment seller of antique and vintage cameras and photographs in the USA for a couple decades. Get it? It wasn’t like it was just some random dumb “picker” who found the film by luck. Silver knew exactly what he was looking at when he found it! I wish these article writers didn’t overplay the “miracle find” angle so much. Anyway, a remarkable valuable treasure, and I’m glad it’s now being preserved for all of us.

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