ANNIVERSARY: 70 years since big 1949 earthquake

(1949 earthquake damage near Harbor/Spokane; photo from the Seattle Municipal Archives)

Thanks to Mark Jaroslaw for pointing out that today marked exactly 70 years since Puget Sound’s biggest earthquake of the 20th century. The 7.1-magnitude South Sound quake at 11:55 am April 13, 1949, led to the deaths of eight people. Two were students – at schools in Tacoma in Castle Rock. Here in West Seattle, damage at a school was among the most notable in the city, mentioned with other nearby damage in the summary of the quake: “… At Lafayette Elementary School in West Seattle, the large brick gable over the main entrance collapsed. Three bridges crossing the Duwamish River were jammed shut due to shifting earth. …” The school damage – to a building that was predecessor to the current Lafayette – is featured in this post by historian Paul Dorpat. But because – like the 2001 quake – it was centered in the South Sound, that’s where it hit hardest; The Olympian published a story today featuring quake survivors’ memories.

SO, ARE YOU READY? The anniversary is another reminder that you need to be prepared for the next big quake. If you need some inspiration, next month you’ll find it at the West Seattle Bee Festival – an Urban Survival Skills Fair presented by West Seattle Be Prepared is part of the plan for the festival, 10 am-2 pm on Saturday, May 18th, at High Point Commons Park.

3 Replies to "ANNIVERSARY: 70 years since big 1949 earthquake"

  • ST April 14, 2019 (12:03 am)

    Interesting. I just saw an old postcard of the Lafayette school on eBay.

  • BJG April 14, 2019 (2:27 pm)

    I recall that day like it was yesterday. We hung on to the lurching doorways of my aunt’s home at 57th NE watching huge rockeries break apart and roll down that very steep hill,  We could hear the glass bottles in her home  beauty salon shattering behind us. It seemed to go on and on. My cousins cried, so I did too. I was three. It will happen again soon enough.

  • dsa April 14, 2019 (10:29 pm)

    I remember too, but for me it was a non event.  I asked my mom the next day why we did not feel it.  She said “I don’t know, we must have been in the car.”  I was four here in West Seattle.

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