Good news, everybody: Less than a year after the 1906 earthquake, downtown Santa Rosa was in great shape. The Press Democrat reported shoppers were filling the streets on Saturday night, just like the "good old times" before the disaster.

Bad news, everybody: downtown Santa Rosa was still a wreck, with piles of building materials blocking the streets - which were also in shameful condition, having no repairs since the earthquake. This dismal item appeared in the Press Democrat two months after that jolly portrait above.

It seems hard to reconcile these descriptions being from the same town, much less the same few short blocks of Fourth Street. A thesis could be written just about these little items; was the optimistic article intended for distribution to tourists and business investors? Was there a political reason to finally mention the lousy street conditions in print? Is there anything truly contradictory between the two stories? Such a good example of how even a simple historical picture slips in and out of focus.

Fourth Street Presented a Busy Scene on Saturday as in the Days Before the Great Disaster

Fourth street took on its old time hustle and activity Saturday, and all day the sidewalks were thronged with pedestrians, while vehicles were constantly going here and there up and down the street.

Saturday night the main business thoroughfare presented an animated scene. It was the first really fine night for many weeks, at least since many of the firms moved back into their handsome new stores. The well lighted windows and stores, with their splendid stocks of goods, attracted everybody.

From several of the business men a reporter learned on Saturday night that the day had been a record breaker for business. At the present time and ever since trade revived immediately following the disaster almost a year ago, business in Santa Rosa has been on the increase. Outside business is being attracted here, too.

- Press Democrat, March 31, 1907

The time has come when Fourth street should be repaired without further delay. Almost a year and a half has elapsed since the earthquake and fire, and yet practically nothing has been done to remove the evidences of the disaster manifested by the condition of the roadway along the city's principal thoroughfare. It is not necessary to wait until all the business [illegible microfilm] fronting on Fourth street have been rebuilt before taking up this [illegible]. There is plenty of [illegible] on hand, and as the building material is removed from in front of the new structures the street should be put in proper condition at once. The municipality should keep fully [illegible] with the great work of rebuilding in this respect, and every day that Fourth street is allowed to remain in its present condition is just one more day lost.

- Press Democrat editorial, July 2, 1907


Newer Post Older Post Home