1933 Long Beach Earthquake

A Quake and a Shave

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The Wess Barber Shop in the Florence section of Los Angeles was destroyed by the March 10, 1933 Long Beach Earthquake. Afterwards, owner Wesley Boyts (left) and barber, Ernest Lentz continued working by cutting hair on the sidewalk. This photo appeared in the March 12, 1933, Los Angeles Times.

March 11, 1933, Los Angeles, CA

The Long Beach earthquake with a 6.4 magnitude tremor and powerful aftershocks hit a rapidly growing Los Angeles County at 5:54 p.m. from an epicenter south of Long Beach and three miles south of Huntington Beach. The earthquake’s destruction, mainly to masonry buildings and schools, resulted in around 50 million dollars in damages and 115 deaths; the second greatest amount of earthquake related deaths in California’s History. “The Great Quake of 1933” had the effect of establishing a reputation for Los Angeles and the state of California in general, as “earthquake country.” It also helped to initiate the Field Act; legislation that required stronger building standards for new schools and retrofitting for older brick buildings still left standing. Life for Californians goes on after natural disasters, as evidenced by the two barbers in the photograph who despite the Long Beach earthquake transitioned their business to the street outside of their ruined shop.

Mandatory Credit: The Los Angeles Times

LA Times staff writers: Molly Hennessy-Fiske, 3/10/2008/ Scott Harrison, 3/8/2019