1933 Long Beach earthquake

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1933 Long Beach earthquake
1933 Long Beach earthquake is located in California
1933 Long Beach earthquake
Los Angeles
Los Angeles
Magnitude 6.4 ṃ [1]
Depth 10 km (6.2 mi) [1]
Epicenter Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found. [2]
Type Strike-slip [3]
Areas affected South Coast (California)
United States
Total damage $40 million [4]
Max. intensity VIII (Severe) [4]
Casualties 115–120 killed [4][5]
File:1933 Long Beach earthquake damage 1.jpg
Damage to the John Muir School, Pacific Avenue, Long Beach
File:Architect and engineer (1934) (14578209967).jpg
Damaged buildings throughout Long Beach

The 1933 Long Beach earthquake took place on March 10 at 5:54 P.M. PST south of downtown Los Angeles. The epicenter was offshore, southeast of Long Beach, California, on the Newport–Inglewood Fault. The earthquake had a magnitude estimated at 6.4 ṃ, and a maximum Mercalli intensity of VIII (Severe). Damage to buildings was widespread throughout Southern California. 115 to 120 fatalities and an estimated forty million dollars' worth of property damage resulted. The majority of the fatalities resulted from people running out of buildings exposing themselves to the falling debris.


The major damage occurred in the densely-populated city of Long Beach on the south-facing coast of Los Angeles County. However, the damage was also found to have extended to the industrial area south of downtown Los Angeles. The magnitude of the earthquake is considered to be medium but a significant amount of damage was left due to unfavorable geological conditions (landfill, water-soaked alluvium) combined with poorly constructed buildings. In 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.[6] It was recognized that unreinforced masonry bearing walls is the reason for school buildings suffering so much damage in the wake of the earthquake.[7]


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. The California State Legislature passed the Field Act on April 10, 1933, mandating that school buildings must be earthquake-resistant. If the earthquake had occurred during school hours, the death toll would have been much higher.[8]

This earthquake prompted the government to play an active role in disaster relief. The government created The Reconstruction Finance Corporation, providing loans for the reconstruction of buildings that were affected during the natural disaster. The Bureau of Public Roads also took action to rebuild roads, highways, and bridges.[9] The economy of Long Beach was able to return to normal swiftly because of the rise of the aircraft industry. To support the World War II efforts, Long Beach created naval yards and increased the number of aircraft produced. This directly helped Long Beach repair and stabilize the economy after the disaster.[10]

Popular culture

The 1933 film Headline Shooter, uses newsreel footage of the Long Beach earthquake.

The earthquake plays a major part in the novel The Last Tycoon (1941), by F. Scott Fitzgerald. During the disruption caused by the quake, the hero, Monroe Stahr, meets Kathleen Moore, with whom he falls in love.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 ISC (2015), ISC-GEM Global Instrumental Earthquake Catalogue (1900–2009), Version 2.0, International Seismological Centre<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. USGS. "M6.4 - 7km WNW of Newport Beach, CA". United States Geological Survey.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Hauksson, E.; Gross, S. (1991), "Source parameters of the 1933 Long Beach earthquake" (PDF), Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, Seismological Society of America, 81 (1): 81<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Stover, C. W.; Coffman, J. L. (1993), Seismicity of the United States, 1568–1989 (Revised) – U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1527, United States Government Printing Office, pp. 78, 130, 131<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. National Geophysical Data Center / World Data Service (NGDC/WDS) (1972), Significant Earthquake Database (Data Set), National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA, doi:10.7289/V5TD9V7K<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6.  This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Geological Survey document: "Earthquake History of California". Archived from the original on 2000-08-17. Retrieved 2018-05-02. Unknown parameter |dead-url= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Green, Melvyn; Watson, Anne L. (1988). "Building Codes: Evaluating Buildings in Seismic Zones". APT Bulletin. 20 (2): 13–17. doi:10.2307/1494245. JSTOR 1494245.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Alquist, A. E. (February 2007). "The Field Act and Public School Construction: A 2007 Perspective" (PDF). California Seismic Safety Commission. Retrieved 27 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Batten, Donna (2013), "Natural Disasters." Gale Encyclopedia of Everyday Law, Gale, pp. 915, 916, 917, 918<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Johnson, Daniel J (2003), Long Beach. Dictionary of American History 3rd ed., vol. 5, Charles Scribner's Sons, Charles Scribners & Sons; 3 edition, pp. 148, 149<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links