1933 Long Beach Earthquake Katie Blasing

The year was 1933! The month was March. All of Orange County was "rocked" by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake, and originated in Long Beach (Orange County Register). The Earthquake wreaked havoc and resulted in 115 deaths (Los Angeles Times). At the time, there were few regulations regarding the buildings and safety. The devastating effects of this earthquake did lead to some positive changes in infrastructure and laws.

Damage from March 1933 earthquake West of Santa Ana in the Talbert area on March 10, 1933

The most damaged area was Long Beach. According to the LA times, "Buildings made of unreinforced brick and mortar were particularly susceptible to the shaking" (See picture below). Many people were displaced from their homes and left in make-shift "refugee" camps (LA Times). The damage was heart wrenching and the lack of government regulated building regulations was felt. The total damage caused about $50 million (in 2017 dollars) worth of damage ( Department of Conservation).

Damage in the 1933 earthquake

This earthquake led to the California State legislature's creation of the Field Act. This act, "requires that the building designs be based on high-level building standards adopted by the state and that plans and specifications be prepared by competent designers qualified by state registration" (Department of Conservation). The Act only applied to new buildings, but as of the 1970s every pre-1930s school were required to make their buildings "earthquake proof".

Damage in the 1933 Earthquake on Spurgeon St. between 3rd and 4th

Although the 1933 Long Beach earthquake caused death and destruction, it allowed for their to be great changed made to California legislation. Thus allowing for the future safety of CA citizens through the regulation of buildings.

Santa Ana March 10, 1933, earthquake damage to the Coast Highway near Huntington Beach

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