1933 Long Beach earthquake

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1933 Long Beach earthquake
1933 Long Beach earthquake is located in California
1933 Long Beach earthquake
Date March 10, 1933 (1933-03-10) (local)
Magnitude 6.4 Mw
Depth 10 kilometers (6.2 mi)
Epicenter 33°38′N 118°00′W / 33.63°N 118.00°W / 33.63; -118.00Coordinates: 33°38′N 118°00′W / 33.63°N 118.00°W / 33.63; -118.00
Areas affected Southern California
United States
Max. intensity VIII (Severe)
Casualties 120 killed
Damage to the John Muir School, Pacific Avenue, Long Beach

The 1933 Long Beach earthquake took place on March 10 at 5:55 P.M. PST with a moment magnitude of 6.4. The epicenter was offshore, southeast of Long Beach on the Newport-Inglewood Fault. Damage to buildings was widespread throughout Southern California, United States. An estimated fifty million dollars' worth of property damage resulted, and 120 lives were lost.[1] Many of these fatalities occurred as people ran out of buildings and were hit by falling debris.

The major damage occurred in the thickly settled district from Long Beach to the industrial section south of Los Angeles, where unfavorable geological conditions (landfill, water-soaked alluvium) combined with poorly constructed buildings worked to increase the damage. At Long Beach, buildings collapsed, water tanks fell through roofs, and houses were tossed off their foundations. School buildings were among the structures that incurred the most severe damage.

The earthquake highlighted the need for earthquake-resistant design for structures in California. Many school buildings were damaged, with more than 230 school buildings that either were destroyed, suffered major damage, or were judged unsafe to occupy, that the Field Act was passed by the California State Legislature on April 10, 1933. The Field Act mandated that school buildings must be earthquake-resistant. If the earthquake had occurred during school hours, the death toll would have been much higher.[2]

Film footage exists which claims to show the quake striking the soundstage of International House (1933) as the camera was rolling; but director A. Edward Sutherland said that he and W.C. Fields, the star of the film, concocted the footage as a hoax.

Amateur Cinema League member Cloyd E. Louis shot two reels of 16mm film of the destruction in the Long Beach area shortly after the earthquake. The film is held by the Ontario City Library, Robert E. Ellingwood Model Colony History Room; a digital copy is available at the Internet Archive.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Long Beach Earthquake: 70th Anniversary". Southern California Earthquake Center. 2007. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  2. ^ Alquist, A. E. (February 2007). "The Field Act and Public School Construction: A 2007 Perspective" (PDF). California Seismic Safety Commission. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 

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