See the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake in Color and 3D

Illustration for article titled See the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake in Color iand/i 3D

The 1906 earthquake that took place in S.F. was epic for the time, leveling countless buildings, igniting fires, and generally causing chaos. It was also responsible for some great photography. But did you know that someone took 3D color photos of the aftermath?


Fredrick Ives, an inventor who the SF Chronicle says created the halftone process used by newspapers and magazines, is the man responsible for these shots, which were viewed in a box called a Kromgram, which slightly resembled a Viewmaster:

The photos that Ives made were also meant to be seen in 3-D through a viewing device. "Can you imagine how shocking these were?" said Shannon Perich, associate curator of the Smithsonian's photography history collection.

Though black-and-white pictures of the 1906 disaster are common, the Smithsonian believes Ives' pictures are the first - and perhaps only - true color photographs of the wreckage ever made. They have never been published before.

A few color pictures of the earthquake and fire that followed have occasionally surfaced, but they were hand-tinted prints on black-and-white originals, not true color photographs.


The Kromgram came out in 1907 and cost $50 (or $1000 by today's standards). However, the Chronicle says that Ives marketed the device terribly and it failed. But hey, at least it spawned some shots that are simultaneously devastating and beautiful. You can see the rest of the collection over at [SF Gate via JoshuaClements].

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Anyone else's eyes hurt from crossing their eyes trying to make that image 3D?