Alaska 1964 Earthquake

Amazing accounts from survivors of the biggest earthquake ever recorded in North America.

Alaska 1964 Earthquake -

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A Special Note

These Alaska 1964 earthquake stories were written by actual survivors.

Every story you read here was experienced first hand. We are the survivors.  

5:36pm, Good Friday, March 27th, 1964

The earth began to shake like never before. As the earth 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 we can both tell you that on that day, when the earth shook like never before, what we experienced was horrifying and unreal.

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

And when it was finally over, we learned that it was a magnitude 9.2 earthquake and that had 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 Alaska 1964 Earthquake stories below for a special look into this amazing event as you experience it through the eyes of the survivors.

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Fascinating Stories

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

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 Joes 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." …

A Teenager in Fairbanks During the 1964 Earthquake  
It was an overcast day in Fairbanks and business at the Piggly Wiggly Super Market was sparse, making for a slow and kind of boring shift. Around 5:30pm, …

Cordova and the Great Alaskan Earthquake 
I was a school teacher in Cordova for 8 years. The following is our families experience about the 1964 Alaskan earthquake. On Friday school got …

Great Alaskan Earthquake Survivor 
My older brother Norman and I were shopping downtown at JC Penney's Department store. The time: 5:336 p.m. and 14 seconds. Panic Swept Over Us. …

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 Alaska? Right after the quake, one of the first questions all of us …

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 …

Home Alone 
The original… Home Alone I had turned 11 years old a couple 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. Suddenly, I knew I could die if I didn't somehow …

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, grey …

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 …

Man survives the earthquake, but is injured from the after effects! Not rated yet
My dad used to love to tell this story that he heard from a Palmer Dairy farmer friend of his. My family rode out the earthquake in the Gulkana area …

Ridgeway like it was Yesterday Not rated yet
I lived in Ridgeway and my Dad was the fuel oil distributor in the area for Standard Oil. Our company was called "Peninsula Fuel." We had a trailer …

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 …

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You might like these

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 book below

captures her amazing story

a must read

Great Alaskan Earthquake Survivor book

Alaska 1964 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 earthquake

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 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 his family spotted him and the boy was happily reunited with his family.

Downtown Book Cache

Photo by Diane Smith

Downtown Book Cache after the 64' earthquake

The damaged Book Cache store 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.

I want to check out these rare

1964 Alaska Earthquake Pictures

right now

The Four Seasons

(it was still under construction when the quake struck)

Four Seasons apartment in Anchorage was still under construction in 1964.

The only part of the Four Seasons that was even somewhat recognizable after the earthquake, was the elevator shaft pictured above.

All around our town, survivors could hardly believe the damage they were seeing. And to this very day, those images haunt our memories.

That's why the Alaska 1964 Earthquake stories above are so amazing to read.

After the Quake

What was Left of 4th Avenue

A large section of 4th Avenue after the Good Friday quake in 1964

The haunting 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 shopping in those businesses or walking on the sidewalk, or even driving by, must have felt like when those first powerful jolts began shaking everything apart?

Government Hill

Elementary School

Good thing the school was empty

because of the Good Friday holiday

Government Hill Elementary School, March 27, 1964

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

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.

As you can imagine, Anchorage school officials had to come up with new places to continue schooling for many students, 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.

For those of us who lived in Anchorage when the quake struck, the picture above is where many of us had walked along the sidewalk so many times, or stood to watch our winter carnival, the Fur Rendezvous and the many other events that took place on 4th Avenue.

And then it was all gone.

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

Reconstruction Begins

Rebuilding after the 1964 quake

Looking at the picture above, it's hard to believe that 4th Avenue was brought back to life and is a thriving part of today's Anchorage life.

This section of the Avenue had sunk below street level and businesses were destroyed. But Alaskan's were determined to rebuild.

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 Good Friday earthquake in 1964.

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

In the above film, you'll also see the destruction in Kodiak, Alaska.

First Kodiak was hit by the earthquake, then by 3 title waves that over ran the city.

Kodiak lost 40 of it's fleet of 100 fishing boats.

In Seward, 90 percent of the town's industry and jobs were wiped out.

Supplies were flown in to Anchorage's Elmendorf Air Force Base and a complete hospital was airlifted from Seattle.

As the narrator explains, 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 in the great Alaska earthquake that there were not enough Federal Disaster funds available to cover the need.

Alaska 1964 Earthquake

While Anchorage and Alaska in general, has it's share of quakes, the one on Good Friday, 1964 was much more intense and destructive than any other - before or sense. 

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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