Photo Of The Day: The Unbelievable Devastation Of Perhaps America’s Deadliest Disaster Ever

San Francisco Earthquake 1906

Looking down Sacramento St. in the wake of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

At 5:12 a.m. on April 18, 1906, the destruction began.

An earthquake of a magnitude not seen in the continental United States since 1700 — and not since — began rocking the coast of Northern California. The shaking stretched for nearly 400 miles, from the area near the Oregon border to the farmland just south of the city that was hit worst: San Francisco.

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The Sad Story Of Laika, The First Animal To Orbit The Earth

Space Dog Russian Stamp

Vintage Soviet stamp of Laika on the Sputnik 2. Image Source: Flickr

Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin is rightly credited with being the first human to enter outer space, but he was not the first earthling to enter the vast Milky Way.

A few years before Gagarin’s groundbreaking 1961 orbit, a stray dog named Laika embarked on a suicide mission to space, becoming the first creature in history to orbit the planet.

At the time, the mutt’s successful launch was seen as one of Russian’s biggest victories.

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Video Of The Day: Stanford Scientists Discover Invisible, Star-Less “Dark Galaxy”

It makes up 95 percent of the matter and energy in the universe. It surrounds all of us yet remains largely a mystery to scientists and has never even been directly observed. And its name is even more ominous than that description: dark matter.

But now, researchers at Stanford have discovered an equally ominous-sounding “dark galaxy” that may reveal the true nature of dark matter.

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Death, Destruction, And Debt: 41 Photos Of Life In 1970s New York

Reeling from a decade of social turmoil, in the 1970s New York fell into a deep tailspin provoked by the flight of the middle class to the suburbs and a nationwide economic recession that hit New York’s industrial sector especially hard.

Combined with substantial cuts in law enforcement and citywide unemployment topping ten percent, crime and financial crisis became the dominant themes of the decade. In just five years from 1969 to 1974, the city lost over 500,000 manufacturing jobs, which resulted in over one million households being dependent on welfare by 1975. In almost the same span, rapes and burglaries tripled, car thefts and felony assaults doubled, and murders went from 681 to 1690 a year.

Depopulation and arson also had pronounced effects on the city: Abandoned blocks dotted the landscape, creating vast areas absent of urban cohesion and life itself. Today, we look at 41 poignant photos that capture a New York City on the brink of implosion:

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Ford To City

Throughout the 1970s, the city teetered on bankruptcy, which was avoided primarily by deep reductions in police, firemen, and teachers. In the above photograph, then Mayor Abe Beame holds a newspaper with the headline 'Ford To City: Drop Dead,' following President Ford's refusal to use federal funds to bail out the city. - National Archives and Records Administration

Oil Slick Statue Liberty 1973

An oil slick surrounds the Statue of Liberty in May 1973. - Wikimedia Commons

World Trade Center

The grand feat of the decade was the completion of the World Trade Center complex. At the time of its 1973 completion, the Twin Towers were the tallest buildings in the world. - National Archives and Records Administration

Rubble East Harlem

While the towers grew, much of the city burned. Landlords who could no longer afford to maintain their buildings would occasionally burn them down to collect insurance money.

Here, children in East Harlem returning from school traverse rubble to reach their homes. - Camilo José Vergara Photographs

Arson In New York

Arson became a major problem in the 1970s in New York, rising from just 1 percent of fires in the 1960s to over 7 percent of fires in the 1970s. - The New York Times

New York On Fire

To prevent the city government from going into default, significant city-wide cuts were put into place -- one-fifth of all public workers were laid off in 1975 alone. With substantially fewer firefighters and police, many crimes and fires were simply not responded to. - National Archives and Records Administration

Playing Cards

A group plays cards in a burnt out cafe in the Bronx. - National Archives and Records Administration

Trash Can Fire Harlem

A child passes a blazing can in Harlem. - National Archives and Records Administration

Welcome To Fear City

In the summer of 1975, tourists were greeted with this ominous brochure at the airport. It featured nine survival tips for navigating the city, including not taking the subway and not walking in any part of the city after 6 PM. - The Guardian

Street Walkers

Prostitution became a city-wide problem in the 1970s, with over 2,400 arrests for the offense in 1976 alone. In the above photograph, negotiations take place on the Bowery. - Leland Bobbé / Photographer

The Bowery

Before becoming famous for its bars and clubs, the Bowery was known for abandoned buildings and a substantial homeless population. - Leland Bobbé / Photographer

Adult Store

New York City became the capital of adult stores with Times Square as its epicenter. As the Guardian wrote, "Times Square’s venerable old theatres and spectacular movie palaces were torn down for office buildings or allowed to slowly rot away, showing scratchy prints of cheesy second-run films or pornography, which any casual visitor might have thought was the city’s leading industry." - National Archives and Records Administration


Dilapidated side streets like these were common in 1970s New York. - National Archives and Records Administration

House Of Paradise

People converse in front of the "House of Paradise" in Times Square. - Leland Bobbé / Photographer

The Bronx

Once the borough of choice for the middle class, the Bronx bore the full brunt of 1970s white flight. Over the course of the decade, the Bronx lost over 30 percent of its population. - Camilo José Vergara Photographs

Bronx River 1970

The Bronx River became an open sewer for industry and humans alike. In fact, it wasn't until 2007 that towns in Westchester and the Bronx both agreed to stop dumping raw sewage into the waterway. - Camilo José Vergara Photographs


Passersby look on at a gentleman passed out on the corner of 172nd Street in the Bronx. - Camilo José Vergara Photographs

Muggers Express

Transportation didn't fare much better than waterways. In the 1970s, the New York subway became jokingly referred to as "the muggers express." By 1979, over 250 felonies were committed every week on the transportation system, making it the most dangerous in the world. - Business Insider


An elderly woman plays the accordion for change on the subway. - Leland Bobbé / Photographer

Subway Car 1973

A man sits among graffiti in a subway car. - The Atlantic

Waiting For The Subway

A woman waits for her train. - The Atlantic

Subway Cars

The exteriors of the subway system were covered in as much grime as the interiors. - National Archives and Records Administration

Avenue C

That's not to say that the entirety of 1970s New York is a portrait of misery. Above, boys enjoy the city's water from a fire hydrant on Avenue C in the Lower East Side. - Camilo José Vergara Photographs

Watching The Show

A group of school boys catches the late afternoon show in the Bronx. - Camilo José Vergara Photographs

Playing On A Car

A group of boys play on the hood of the car in the Bronx in the early 1970s. - Camilo José Vergara Photographs

Quilting Bee Central Park

A group participates in a Central Park quilting bee during the summer of 1973. - The Atlantic

Signs In East Harlem

People observe a number of signs in East Harlem. - Camilo José Vergara Photographs


A group of girls share their Barbie collections on the stoop of a brownstone townhouse in Harlem. - Camilo José Vergara Photographs


Two young women pose in Harlem. - National Archives and Records Administration

Hanging In Lynch Park

Two teenage girls pose for a photograph in Lynch Park, South Williamsburg. - National Archives and Records Administration

Lynch Park

Elsewhere, a group of teenagers hang out in the South Williamsburg park in 1974. - The Atlantic

July 4th Bed Stuy 1974

People celebrate July 4th in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, 1974. - The Atlantic

Puerto Rican Wedding

A Puerto Rican wedding takes place. - Camilo José Vergara Photographs

Wedding Day

In Harlem, a couple gets married. - National Archives and Records Administration

Big Joe

A Bed Stuy resident simply known as "Big Joe" poses for photographer Camilo José Vergara. - Camilo José Vergara Photographs

East Harlem

A woman takes a breather in East Harlem. - Camilo José Vergara Photographs

Lower East Side

Lower East Side residents interact near their stoops. - Camilo José Vergara Photographs

Viva La Revolution Bushwick

An apartment above a pharmacist in Bushwick, Brooklyn, has a revolutionary theme. - Camilo José Vergara Photographs

Looters 1977 Blackout

In 1977, New York experienced a 25-hour citywide blackout that led to looting and arson. When all available police were ordered to duty, 40% of the off-duty force refused to show as a result of the escalating animosity between the police union and the city. - National Archives and Records Administration

Dumbo 1974

Now home to luxury loft apartments and media agencies, the Brooklyn neighborhood of DUMBO was largely uninhabited for most of the 1970s. - The Atlantic

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