“I was asleep and was awakened by the house rocking. With the exception of water in vases, and milk in pans being spilled, and one of our chimneys badly cracked, we escaped with nothing but a bad scare, but I can assure you it was a terrific and terrifying experience to feel that old house rocking, jolting and jumping under us, with the most terrible roar, dull, deep and nerve-racking. It calmed down after that and we went back to bed, only to get up at six o’clock to find that neighbors had suffered by having vases knocked from tables, bric-a-brac knocked around, tiles knocked out of grates and scarcely a chimney left standing. We thought that we had had the worst of it, so I started over to the city as usual, reaching there about eight o’clock, and it is just impossible to describe the scenes that met my eyes.
“In every direction from the ferry building flames were seething, and as I stood there, a five-story building half a block away fell with a crash, and the flames swept clear across Market Street and caught a new fireproof building recently erected. The streets in places had sunk three or four feet, in others great humps had appeared four or five feet high. The street car tracks were bent and twisted out of shape. Electric wires lay in every direction. Streets on all sides were filled with brick and mortar, buildings either completely collapsed or brick fronts had just dropped completely off. Wagons with horses hitched to them, drivers and all, lying on the streets, all dead, struck and killed by the falling bricks, these mostly the wagons of the produce dealers, who do the greater part of their work at that hour of the morning. Warehouses and large wholesale houses of all descriptions either down, or walls bulging, or else twisted, buildings moved bodily two or three feet out of a line and still standing with walls all cracked.
“The Call building, a twelve-story skyscraper, stood, and looked all right at first glance, but had moved at the base two feet at one end out into the sidewalk, and the elevators refused to work, all the interior being just twisted out of shape. It afterward burned as I watched it. I worked my way in from the ferry, climbing over piles of brick and mortar and keeping to the centre of the street and avoiding live wires that lay around on every side, trying to get to my office. I got within two blocks of it and was stopped by the police on account of falling walls. I saw that the block in which I was located was on fire, and seemed doomed, so turned back and went up into the city.