On October 17, 1989 at just after 5 o'clock in the evening as commuters were taking to the streets for rush hour a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck the San Franscisco Bay area killing 63 people and causing billions of dollars worth of damage. The quake also happened to occur during the warmups for a World Series game between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A's that was scheduled to be held that evening at Candlestick Park in San Francisco and therefore the first rumblings were broadcast live around the world via the ABC Sports feed from the park.

While devastation was widespread in the Bay area the abiding image from the quake (and indeed the event that caused the greatest number of deaths) was that of the collapsed Cypress Street Viaduct in Oakland where a formerly two level structure pancaked down into a single level crushing 41 people to death in their cars. 90 hours after the quake a single survivor was found in the rubble of the collapsed roadway though he was in very bad shape and after 29 days he died of his injuries.

The quake was centered some 60 miles south of San Francisco (near a mountain called "Loma Prieta; hence the name of the quake) in a largely unpopulated area but the shaking was felt all over northern California. In the Marina section of San Francisco many houses that had been built on landfill composed of debris from the Great Quake of 1906 collapsed when the soil beneath them experienced liquifaction. It would take years, literally, to rebuild many of the roadways and bridges damaged in the quake. In the case of the Cypress street Viaduct it was torn down and finally rebuilt more than 10 years later in a different location.

As for the World Series; it was postponed for 10 days before resuming in Candlestick. For the record the A's went on to win 4 games to 0 over San Francisco.

Collapsed Cypress Street Viaduct. Image: US Geological Survey