The 1989 San Francisco earthquake delivered a myriad of deadly disasters, all unfolding at the same time: from a collapsed freeway to deadly fires in the city's historic marina.
For years, experts have warned that the Bay Area was due for a major earthquake, but no one knew exactly when or where it would strike. On October 17, 1989, the answer came with a fury. Measuring a massive 7.1 on the Richter Scale, the quake left large parts of San Francisco in ruins and hundreds of residents trapped under collapsed structures and burning homes. Witness the heart-pounding and heartbreaking rescue efforts made as we focus on five people fighting to survive the deadliest U.S. earthquake in over 80 years.
Watch this episode online now.
Stream hundreds of shows by starting your free trial to Smithsonian Channel Plus. Check the availability of this title and explore our vast library of original documentaries and series.
Access even more free Smithsonian Channel full episodes and documentaries online through participating TV providers.
Find out if your television provider carries Smithsonian Channel.
Don't panic! It's simple to upgrade to the latest version of one of these browsers:
Don't panic! To get the best possible experience on smithsonianchannel.com we recommend you upgrade your operating system.
For the best possible site experience, please use Chrome for Android.
Add username "SmithsonianChan" on Snapchat for fun and fascinating facts. We'll be sharing spontaneous photos and videos as inspiration strikes.