SAN FRANCISCO - MAY 1906

1906 - This view was taken later in the year. It shows the damage and reconstruction starting in the city after the April 18th disaster. George R. Lawrence was an early pioneer in aerial photography. Lawrence was not an artist, but he was a gifted engineer and a canny businessman. In 1900, he built what was then the largest camera ever constructed: a 1,400-pound monster that required 15 operators and took photographs that were eight feet wide and 4 1/2 feet high, in order to capture the Chicago and Alton Railroad's Alton Limited. The following year Lawrence got into aerial photography, taking a balloon up above the stockyards; the basket separated from the balloon, dropping Lawrence 200 feet, when telephone and telegraph wires broke his fall. Soon afterwards he built a system of kites, the "Lawrence Captive Airship": "a kite train of up to 17 Conyne kites on a piano wire cable suspending a camera held by the specially designed stabilizing mechanism." He made $15,000 alone on sales of a picture of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake, or about $375,000 today. This is only a detail of the original, which shows downtown and towards the west. 

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