Active Tectonics, Quantitative Structural Geology and Geomorphology

Kite Photography Page

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

"Aerial photography was quite an art in 1906. Airplanes could barely get off the ground then, and lighter-than-air ships were expensive and cumbersome. An enterprising midwesterner, George Lawrence, devised and patented this ingenious system of kites and wires, right, that carried a 46-pound panoramic camera 800 feet into the air. It was with this arrangement that these three pictures weretaken. Lawrence and his local associate, Harry Myers, played out half a mile of line before the camera was at the proper altitude. When they were ready to shoot, they checked with binoculars to make sure the lens was lined up, and then tripped the shutter with an electrical impulse generated by an old style telephone magneto. A device within the camera then swept across a 90-degree arc to expose the image to a 22 by 55 inch negative (Oakland Tribune)"

"This sweeping panorama, like the two on the opposite page, taken from a camera hoisted aloft by a string of kites. The Mint, center, is at the corner of Mission and Fifth streets. City Hall is at the far left."

"Opposite view looking over Nob Hill toward business district, South of the Slot, and the distant Mission. Fairmont Hotel, center, dwarfs the Call Building. City Hall and Ferry Building are easy to spot. (Panoramas courtesy of Harry Myers)."

"Three years after the pictures above were taken, a great part of the downtown section had been completely rebuilt. View here was shifted slightly to the east. Goat Island, far left. Mason Street cuts across right corner."