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Oct. 17, 1989: Loma Prieta Earthquake rocks Bay Area

Kelly O'Mara
October 17, 2013

As the players warmed up in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park and thousands of people gathered for the third game of the 1989 World Series, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck the city. Because the World Series (between San Francisco and Oakland) was televised live, it was the first earthquake where the initial tremors were seen around the world.

The earthquake — known as the Loma Prieta earthquake — was at the time one of the largest to hit a major metropolitan area. The Marina district of the city, which had been built on infill made of rubble and dirt, suffered extensive damage. The two-tier Cypress Viaduct freeway structure in Oakland collapsed and was not rebuilt until 1997.

A portion of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge’s top level also collapsed. While the Bay Bridge was reopened not long after the disaster, a new earthquake-safe bridge has been in the works since then. In September, the new bridge finally opened and has attracted thousands of visitors with its sweeping arches and lighted cables.

The Bay Lights LED light sculpture is a public arts project using 25,000 lights set on scheduled patterns and funded by a local nonprofit. Through March of 2015, the lights will run throughout each night in ever-changing patterns.