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"Well, there it goes!".

Arnold Genthe (GEN-tah) was a photographer who lived on Sutter Street near Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. His photographs of the 1906 earthquake and fires are eloquent testimony to the disaster, Read the following excerpts from his memoir, then answer the questions below.

At one point, Genthe learned that his house was going to be blown up to create a firebreak.

From a safe distance I watched with others the dynamiting of the block of our homes. There was no expression of despair. ("Well, there it goes!" "That's that!" being the only comments heard.) That night I slept in Golden Gate Park together with thousands of others who were in the same plight. The crowd there suggested more a camping out than refugees from a disaster in which they had lost their homes and all their material possessions. A cheerful spirit seemed to prevail throughout and whatever one had was gladly shared.

Eventually, Genthe found himself on Nob Hill. There he noted the reaction of the people who had just abandoned their homes (see photo).

The occupants are sitting on chairs calmly watching the approach of the fire. Groups of people are standing in the street, motionless, gazing at the clouds of smoke. When the fire crept up close, they would just move up a block....

The attitude of calmness ... was perhaps not so much [from a] philosophy that accepts whatever fate brings. I rather believe that the shock of the disaster had completely numbed our sensibilities.


1. What did Arnold Genthe do for a living?

2. Where did he live?

3. What happened to his house?

4. What did a lot of the people on his block seem to be doing the night after they lost their homes?

5. Where was the photograph on this page taken?

6. What, according to Genthe, are the people in the photo doing?

7. What comments among the people in this excerpt show a sense of resignation to losing everything?

8. What other attitude do the homeless display toward each other?

9. Genthe comes to what conclusion about his fellow victims?

10. After the earthquake, Genthe began wandering the city taking photographs. Why do you think he did this? What would you have done, and why?


1. He was a photographer.

2. in San Francisco, on Sutter Street near Van Ness Avenue

3. It was dynamited to create a firebreak.

4. camping out in Golden Gate Park

5. on Nob Hill in San Francisco

6. "sitting on chairs calmly watching the approach of the fire" or "standing in the street, motionless, gazing at the clouds of smoke"

7. "Well, there it goes!" and "That's that!"

8. Genthe notes a cheerfulness and generosity among the people in Golden Gate Park

9. that at least some of the calmness of the victims on Nob Hill was a result of "the shock of the disaster," which "had completely numbed our sensibilities"

10. Answers will vary, but should be supported by well-reasoned explanations or examples.
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Publication:Junior Scholastic
Date:Mar 27, 2006
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