“I don’t live anywhere,” was the answer given in many cases when the applicant for a license was asked the locality of his residence. “I used to live in San Francisco.”
Births seem to have been about as common as marriages, in one night five children being born in Golden Gate Park. In Buena Vista Park eight births were recorded and others elsewhere, the population being thus increased at a rate hardly in accordance with the exigencies of the situation.
We have spoken only of the camps of refugees within the municipal limits of San Francisco. But in addition to these was the multitude of fugitives who made all haste to escape from that city. This was with the full consent of the authorities, who felt that every one gone lessened the immediate weight upon themselves, and who issued a strict edict that those who went must stay, that there could be no return until a counter edict should be made public.
From the start this was one of the features of the situation. Down Market Street, once San Francisco’s pride, now leading through piles of tottering walls, piles of still hot bricks and twisted iron and heaps of smouldering debris, poured a huge stream of pedestrians. Men bending under the weight of great bundles pushed baby carriages loaded with bric-a-brac and children. Women toiled along with their arms full, but a large proportion were able to ride, for the relief corps had been thoroughly organized and wagons were being pressed into service from all sides.
In constant procession they moved toward the ferry, whence the Southern Pacific was transporting them with baggage free wherever they wished to go. Automobiles meanwhile shot in all directions, carrying the Red Cross flag and usually with a soldier carrying a rifle in the front seat. They had the right of way everywhere, carrying messages and transporting the ill to temporary hospitals and bearing succor to those in distress.
Oakland, the nearest place of resort, on the bay shore opposite San Francisco, soon became a great city of refuge, fugitives gathering there until 50,000 or more were sheltered within its charitable limits. Having suffered very slightly from the earthquake that had wrecked the great city across the bay, it was in condition to offer shelter to the unfortunate. All day Wednesday and Thursday a stream of humanity poured from the ferries, every one carrying personal baggage and articles saved from the conflagration. Hundreds of Chinese men, women and children, all carrying baggage to the limit of their strength, made their way into the limited Chinatown of Oakland.