My Life as a San Francisco Realtor: Where were you 24 years ago today?

Where were you 24 years ago today?

Where were you on October 17, 1989 at 5:04pm. I can tell you EXACTLY where I was, 24 years ago today. I don't have any photos, other than my memories. I didn't have a camera with me and cell phones were too primitive. Imagine all the photos we would have if something like that happened today......This story is about the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

I was with my colleagues in an architectural office located in an old warehouse in downtown San Francisco. Suddenly the suspended overhead lights starting swinging back and forth at a 90 degree angle. All the file cabinet drawers opened. The building was shaking and we all said 'what do we do?' Run for the doorway!

When the shaking stopped, I left the building, thinking I had an appointment at 5:30 across town. Then I remembered the electricity was out. I started walking the eleven blocks to Market Street. I saw an entire block where the curb was separated from the sidewalk and at least 4 or 5 inches below or above. I walked past a building across from the Hyatt Regency where all the brick had fallen off the face. 

When I got to Market Street there was a huge crowd around the entrance to the underground lightrail system. Of course, no electricity, no transportation in the subway. So I started walking home, almost 3 miles. What I saw on that walk struck me like a scene from the twilight zone. 

I made it home and my place was still standing. I watched the red smoke rise over the hill from the Marina district. I heard on my walkman that the Bay Bridge had collapsed. And it was getting dark, very dark. No moon in the sky. It would be days before I had electricity and hot water again. Yes, I remember EXACTLY where I was 24 years ago....

I wrote a complete account of those days, and it is hiding on my computer somewhere. Maybe I'll post it in segments someday. Meanwhile you can see the San Francisco Chronicle's photo account of those days HERE


John M Scott, Broker / Owner, Scott Keys Properties, Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE), Council of Real Estate Brokerage Managers (CRB), serving San Francisco and the surrounding San Francisco Bay Area

Comment balloon 4 commentsJohn M. Scott • October 17 2013 06:39PM


You really experienced it with all the hassles it carried being in the city.  I was down in the "burbs" and we never even lost power.  The whole thing just doesn't seem that long ago.

Posted by Bryan Robertson, Broker, Author, Speaker (Intero Real Estate) over 5 years ago

We were watching the baseball game, of course, along with many others;  ironically, my aunt, who lives in Walnut Creek, was on a flight out of SF airport, east coast bound.  Fortunately by the time she landed, we had reached one of her neighbors who confirmed her house had no damage.  What an evening that was!

Posted by Susan Haughton, Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results. (Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545) about 5 years ago

So right Bryan. It dosn't seem that long ago. But so much has happened since then!

Posted by John M. Scott, Broker / Owner San Francisco Bay Area (BRE # 01442690, Scott Keys Properties) about 5 years ago

It was quite an evening Susan. And it's amazing how we all still remember every detail.

Posted by John M. Scott, Broker / Owner San Francisco Bay Area (BRE # 01442690, Scott Keys Properties) about 5 years ago