1964 Alaska Earthquake
Stories

These 1964 Alaska Earthquake Stories are amazing accounts from survivors of the biggest earthquake ever recorded in North America.


1964 Alaska earthquake

5:36pm, Good Friday,

March 27, 1964


The earth began to shake like never before. As it rumbled and roared, buildings, roads and sidewalks were torn apart.

There was no place to hide.

And it seemed as though it would never end. That it would go on and on until the earth was but a memory.


Can you imagine what that must have felt like?


Mike and Mary of Anchorage Memories are both survivors of the 1964 earthquake, and what they experienced, was horrifying and unreal.

"We were literally being shaken to the core of our being. And what we saw, felt, and heard will never leave us."

When it was finally over, the world learned that the quake was a magnitude 9.2 and that it lasted an incredible 5-minutes.

139 people lost their lives, and the tsunamis that followed hit British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and Northern California.

Read the stories below for a first-hand look into this amazing event as you experience it through the eyes of survivors who were living in Anchorage, when the 1964 Alaska earthquake struck.

Were you there too?



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Fascinating Stories

Click below to see stories from other visitors to this page...

1964 Earthquake
Story from
Turnagain
 
I was in southern California during the 1964 Alaska earthquake, but I heard the following story told by a woman in the hard-hit area of Turnagain. …

I Survived
The 1964 Earthquake
Inside the 4th Avenue Theater
 
It was Good Friday. Our Dad dropped us off at the 4th Avenue Theater to see a Walt Disney movie. He was going to pick us up later when the movie was …

Shake Rattle and Roll 
I was a little over six years old at the time of the 64 quake, so this is what I remember. We lived near Jewel lake. I don’t remember the streets …

The Doctor got a Shot
in His Thumb
 
I was five years old when the 1964 Earthquake hit. My father, brothers and sister were home. My brother was watching fireball XL5. The countdown …

KTVA's Buckaroo Show
and the 64 Earthquake
 
I was hosting the Buckaroo Show live at 5 from the KTVA studios on the first floor of the McKinley Building. The show featured cartoons, puppets and …

Salvaging
Earthquake Damaged Homes
in Turnagain
 
Many of us who were older (as in 17) volunteered for Civil Defense duty after the earthquake. We were assigned to different projects over the next few …

My 1964 Earthquake Experience
in Turnagain
 
For you G.T. who I promised this to some time ago. And to you C.H because your post regarding the ’64 quake and PSTD really hit home for me and finally …

I Saw the School Split in Half 
I was stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base at the time of the quake. I was just outside the gate on Government Hill at a drug store picking up a …

We were lucky in Spenard 
My mom was in the kitchen making sloppy Joe's for dinner. The three of us were huddled around the television watching the start of Fireball XL5. …

Imprinted Forever
by the 1964 Earthquake
 
I was 11 years old when the great “64” earthquake impacted my life. We lived in what my mom liked to call the cesspool, an apartment at 13th & Cordova. …

Mommy’s House Broken 
Our family was spared by the Grace of God! We lived in a single family house on a typical street in our neighborhood of "Turnagain By The Sea." …

Great Alaskan Earthquake
Survivor
 
My older brother Norman and I were shopping downtown at JC Penney's Department store. At 5:36 p.m. and 14 seconds, panic swept over us. A big jolt. …

I'll Never Forget 
I was 6 years old on that day. We lived on West 29th Place, which back then was a dead end street off of Spenard Road. Now days it's Benson Blvd …

The Fireball XL5
Great Alaska Earthquake
Connection
 
What does "Supermarionation" have to do with the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake in Anchorage? Right after the quake, one of the first questions all of …

Shaking on Boniface Road 
We lived in a trailer court on Boniface road. It started as a dull roar and vibration as you expect when a jet flies over. This time the roar and vibration …

Home Alone 
The original… Home Alone I had turned 11 years old a couple of weeks prior to the earthquake in March 1964. My brother was 15. We lived in a mobile …

Alaskan Earthquake
No Place to Hide
 
Ground fissures were opening up all around me as the earth began to shake more violently than ever before. I was 17 years old and suddenly, I knew …

I Remember 64 
I was 11 years old in 1964 and living with my parents in the Turnagain By The Sea residential area on Captain Cook Blvd. It was a snowy day, gray …

The 1964 Earthquake
was a
Shaking Experience
 Not rated yet
My sister and I were sitting together, watching our favorite show, Fireball XL5 at our home on 3900 Arctic Blvd. As I remember, there was some kind …

Ron Moore
1964 Earthquake Memories
 Not rated yet
Scotty Ferguson and yours truly were doing a 5:30 pm news-sports cast on KFQD. I had just finished the news and Scotty was doing sports in the studio …

The Street just Disappeared Not rated yet
A friend of mine, Tom Jones (not the singer), used to go to the 4th Avenue Theater nearly every weekend and then go grab a shirt or pair of pants at our …

I was 13
and my Little Brother was 10
We Recall the Quake Vividly
 Not rated yet
I've been asked to give our memory of March 27, 1964, at 5:36 PM. My brother and I have vivid recall. My name is Ron Dionne and my brother is Ross …

1964 Alaskan Earthquake
Memories
 Not rated yet
It was my husband's birthday, and I was cooking and had just placed his cake on the table. All of a sudden, things started shaking. The doors of …

Click here to write your own.




An Incredible Story of Survival

Mary of Anchorage Memories

was a teenager when the quake hit.

She was in the JC Penney building

it collapsed around her.

Her e-book below

captures her amazing story.

 A must-read


Great Alaskan Earthquake Survivor book




Note:

THIS IS A DIGITAL DOWNLOADABLE E-BOOK.

No physical book will be shipped or mailed.




1964 Alaska Earthquake

Scroll Down for Incredible Pictures

and First Hand Accounts



Club Paris and Rexall Drug Store

Across From the JC Penney Building

Photo by Helen Bucy

Club Paris bar and Rexall Drug Store after the 1964 earthquakeAwesome power of the 9.2 quake

The picture above shows the huge concrete slabs that fell off the JC Penney building and came crashing down on the street below, crushing cars and trapping people.

A story is often told about a small boy who was separated from his family right in front of the Rexall Drug store (pictured above) after the quake.

In the confusion, and not knowing what to do, the shop owner placed the boy in the store's picture window where he could be seen. As a result, the boy was happily reunited with his family.


Downtown Book Cache

Photo by Diane Smith

Downtown Book Cache after the 64' earthquakeJC Penney building is in the background

The damaged Book Cache pictured above, was all that remained of a favorite downtown destination for Anchorage shoppers.

After the quake, it was shocking to see areas of our town that were left looking more like a scene from a war movie, than the Anchorage we all knew and loved.



1964 Alaska Earthquake Pictures

Check out these rare

1964 Alaska Earthquake Pictures

right now




The Four Seasons

(it was still under construction)

Four Seasons apartment in Anchorage was still under construction when the 1964 quake hit Alaska.Four Seasons was never rebuilt

The Four Seasons building was still under construction when the massive quake struck. The only part that survived was the elevator shaft pictured above.



After the Quake

What was Left of 4th Avenue

4th Avenue in Anchorage after the Good Friday quake in 1964Shells of buildings were all that was left

The eerie picture above looks more like a ghost town than 4th Avenue in Anchorage.

This picture is a striking reminder of the incredible destruction our town endured.

Can you even imagine how the people who were in those businesses, on the sidewalk, or even driving by, must have felt when those first powerful jolts began shaking everything apart?



Government Hill

Elementary School


Government Hill Elementary School, March 27, 1964Thankfully, children were not in school

The 1964 earthquake struck on Good Friday, March 27th.

And because of the holiday, children were not in school.

Looking at the picture above, we can thank God that no children were in that building when it was torn apart.

In the days and weeks that followed, Anchorage school officials had to come up with new places to continue schooling for many of the town's children, including elementary, junior high and high school students.

It was yet another reminder that our lives had been changed forever by an amazing force of nature.


Incredible Destruction

on 4th Avenue

Part of 4th Avenue sank below street level during the 1964 earthquake.The stories of survival are amazing

For those of us who lived in Anchorage when the quake struck, the picture above shows a familiar sidewalk where many of us had stood to watch the Fur Rendezvous, our winter carnival, the month before the quake.

And then it was all gone.

For a time after the quake, we wondered if our town would ever be the same.


Reconstruction Begins

Rebuilding after the 1964 quakeBringing back a part of Anchorage

This section of the 4th Avenue had sunk below street level during the quake and businesses were destroyed.

But those who lived in Anchorage were determined to rebuild.

Looking at the picture above, it's hard to believe that all the devastation you see was able to be cleaned up, rebuilt and brought back to life.

Today, 4th Avenue is a thriving part of today's Anchorage life.

For all of us who survived the quake, when reconstruction first began, it gave us a glimmer of hope for a brighter future.

Smiles began returning to our faces.



1964 Earthquake

Narrated Newsreel

Turn up the sound

and click on the video below



The above newsreel footage is narrated by Ed Herlihy, and vividly shows the destruction that occurred during the 9.2 earthquake.

As explained in the film, this earthquake was 35 times as strong as the San Francisco earthquake in 1906.

The cost of the quake was conservatively estimated to be at least $500 million dollars. And of course that was in 1964 dollars.

There was so much destruction that there were not enough Federal Disaster funds available to cover the need.

Following the quake, much needed supplies were flown in to Anchorage's Elmendorf Air Force Base and a complete hospital was airlifted from Seattle.


1964 Alaska Earthquake


While Anchorage has its share of quakes, the one on Good Friday, 1964 was much more intense and destructive than any other - before or since. 

And those who experienced the terror and devastation first hand, still vividly recall their experiences to this day - and always will.




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