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Street Food: 1906 Earthquake Kitchens

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This fall, the San Francisco Public Library is exploring local author Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster for our One City One Book 2012/California Reads program. (show book cover)

After the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, San Francisco citizens banded together to feed their neighbors. Improvised kitchens with free food and warm social spaces developed as people gathered to cook and eat. As Rebecca Solnit says about one such improvised kitchen organizers, “Just as her kitchen was one of many spontaneously launched community centers and relief projects, so her resilient resourcefulness represents the ordinary response in many disasters. In them, strangers become friends and collaborators, goods are shared freely, people improvise new roles for themselves.”

The photos in this display, found in the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection, located in the San Francisco History Center on the 6th floor, show a city torn but banding together for survival and, as will be found with good food, even some pleasure in the face of disaster.

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