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Where Were You 23 Years Ago Today?

Is Santa Cruz better off after the Loma Prieta earthquake? What would you have done differently in rebuilding the city? Are we better prepared for the next one?

At 5:04 p.m. on Oct. 17, 1989 the ground in Santa Cruz shook.

A lot of the area's attention was focused on the World Series game that was about to start between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics, but suddenly sports was insignificant as a 6.9 quake centered at Loma Prieta in Nisene Marks Park, rocked Nothern California.

In the the quaint cobblestone downtown – then known as the Pacific Garden Mall – unreinforced brick tumbled, killing two in the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company and a third in Ford's Department Store.

Much of the downtown was deemed unsafe afterwards and knocked down. Businesses moved into tents for years of planning, fights and rebuilding.

The city and county would never be the same.

What do you remember about the day and the time? How has your life changed?

Was the area successful in rebuilding? Did downtown lose its quaintness with its bricks and snaking street? Are we better off?

Have we learned from the disaster and are we better prepared for the next one?

Here's a list of the Santa Cruz County dead from the Sentinel.

Sue Schwee October 17, 2012 at 05:22 PM
I was in the Scotts Valley middle school auditorium watching my daughter's basketball game. As the roar grew louder we knew it was mother nature & not "we the spectators" making all the noise. Everyone became very somber and we all departed knowing the "big one" had hit. My most vivid memory was the fear as helicopters flew overhead dropping flares to "see what damage" had happened and knowing that the cell towers had gone down disrupting emergency communications. But I also vividly remember the kindness of our local police driving by and spending those few minutes to let us know help would be on the way...
Hawkins October 17, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Oh the memories. Long lines to pay inflated prices for basic supplies, running outside at every aftershock and sleeping on the font lawn at night.
W C Casey October 17, 2012 at 06:01 PM
At 5:04 on October 17, 1989, I was just getting ready to leave my office in the Neary Building (next to the Palomar on Pacific). Luckily for the occupants, the Neary was one of the few old brick buildings in town that had been retrofitted with an interior steel frame to resist seismic forces - the building was repaired and still stands today. The unnecessary demolition of the Cooper House (which also had a steel-frame retrofit) was the biggest architectural and historical tragedy of the after-quake reponse. For historical and personal reasons (I miss the Teacup), I also would have saved the Flatiron building at the head of Pacific, but I won't pretend it was a visual and cultural treasure like the Cooper House. Kudos to County Bank for the extraordinary effort to save the facade of that building.
Brent Ainsworth October 17, 2012 at 07:43 PM
I was covering the World Series for the Sentinel. Here are my memories: http://patch.com/A-yHT7
Brad Kava October 18, 2012 at 03:08 AM
I cooper house was a treasure and will always be missed. I wish someone would post some good pictures of it.

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