On March 10, 1933 at 5:54 in the evening, Southern California was shaken by a severe earthquake. The epicenter of the shock was
about three and one-half miles southwest of Newport Beach and extended along the Inglewood fault. Four deaths occurred in
In Santa Ana, a man and his wife raced out of the Rossmore Hotel and were crushed under an avalanche of bricks and mortar.
Another man, while walking in front of the Richelieu Hotel, was struck by a piece of falling cornice and instantly killed.
In Garden Grove, a 13 year old girl was planning a freshman party
with her friends when the earthquake hit. She was sitting on the steps
of a local high school and was crushed by a falling wall. Two of her
friends were injured.
In Newport Beach, 800 chimneys were broken off at the roof line and
several hundred buildings were destroyed.
In Huntington Beach, steel oil derricks were "squashed" several
inches out of the ground.
In Santa Ana, Anaheim and Garden Grove, business centers were
badly damaged and debris covered downtown streets. A heavy fog
enveloped the Southland, making rescue work difficult.
The 1933 Long Beach earthquake affected 75,000 square miles, and
resulted in the formation of more stringent building codes for Orange
Here are some recollections (in his own words) by Arthur G. Porter, who lived at 754 N. Zeyn at the time of the
quake. He wrote this about 30 years after the event....
One of California's most disastrous earthquakes struck at exactly 5:55 P.M. on March 10, 1933. The area affected most
disastrously was from Ventura south and in some fifty or sixty miles from the ocean. Los Angeles was seriously stricken and some
lives were lost there, but the most violent force of the quake was in Long Beach, San Pedro and Compton, with the main force of the
quake at Compton, as we understood it. While Compton took the most property loss, it was quite conceded that the greatest loss of
lives was in Long Beach. It was generally reported, but not exactly confirmed publicly, that more than two hundred persons perished
in the quake in the Long Beach area, and I never heard that estimate successfully denied.
Glenn and Norvelle were in Long Beach, living there at the time, and Ellis was in Los Angeles. The wreckage in Long Beach was so
bad that all traffic going IN was stopped, but they did let persons OUT. We attempted to get in, but without success. Early in the
evening of the quake Glenn and his family came to our home. More quakes, less severe, continued through the area for some
twenty-four hours or more. While the quake did not reach the intensity of the San Francisco quake in 1906, it was, indeed, a major
disaster. I believe I may safely say that the property loss ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, for it was tremendous. In
Long Beach and in Compton, in many places, the wreckage from the fallen buildings had entirely covered the streets and throughout
the residential sections many, many houses were wrecked and in many instances were entirely off their foundations.
Norvelle's Grandfather, in Long Beach, had gone down town to get some groceries. He was pulling a child's wagon with his supplies
thereon and just as he passed in front of a large laundry building the entire front came out and barely missed hitting him. He was
almost home at the time and when he got into the house he said that there had been a terrible explosion in the laundry and that the
front had been blown out. He did not realize, at the moment, that it had been caused by an earthquake.
At home in Anaheim, Myrtle was busy in the kitchen, - Mylet was sitting at the table in the dining room, and I was seated on the
davenport. When the quake hit we all scrambled to get out the back door; I tried several times before I could get up off the sofa, and
then as we stood (or, rather attempted to stand) near the rear kitchen door, our garage appeared to be shaking just as if it were on
the end of a rug shaken by hand. Myrtle's first reaction, after we got on the lawn, was: "My, I'm glad Glenn and Ellis are not here!"
She had forgotten, for a moment, that Glenn and his family were in Long Beach and that Ellis was in Los Angeles, both of which
places apparently took a harder beating than we did in Anaheim.
Ellis is the one in our family who displays the most courtesy at the proper time, but in this instance he slipped. He tells us himself
that he was having dinner on the sixth floor of the Clifton Cafe when the quake hit. When the building began to rock and creak,
there was a mad rush for the elevators, stairways and fire escapes, and he says that in the frenzy of the moment he remembers
distinctly deliberately stepping over a woman prostrate on the floor, in the wild scramble to get out. He says that he did not
consciously think of such performance until he was out on the street, and it was then too late to be of any assistance to the lady.
|Orange County School of Fine Art
422 W. Center St. (now Lincoln Ave.)
Destroyed in 1933 Earthquake