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1906 Earthquake & Fire

Care of the Injured

Within an hour, the injured were being treated at a newly created emergency hospital in the Mechanic's Pavilion, a building that filled the block now occupied by Bill Graham Auditorium. The Central Emergency Hospital, which had been across the street, was destroyed when City Hall collapsed on top of it. (City Hall was located approximately where the new main branch of the Public Library now stands.) Under the direction of Dr McGinty, the surgeon on duty, policemen, firemen, and volunteers quickly moved patients and equipment to the new emergency hospital at the Mechanic's Pavilion. Mattresses were brought from nearby hotels. Two police officers took a wagon to the Owl Drug Store on Market Street to get bandages and additional supplies. Doctors, nurses, and volunteers quickly arrived from all parts of the City.

City Hall in ruins
City Hall in ruins. The Central Emergency Hospital was at street level, behind the rubble, in back of the two columns in this photo. Photo Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.

Before noon, the building caught fire, but the 354 patients were removed unharmed. Rabbi Voorsanger instituted an automobile ambulance system, and patients were transferred to various hospitals. The Army opened its hospital in the Presidio to civilians.

With the help of the Army, a field hospital was set up in Golden Gate Park.