The 4:31 a.m. jolt hit Los Angeles from 11 miles deep, shaking the city from its slumber with a temblor that would kill 57 people, injure 9,000, topple freeways, ignite fires, set off landslides and inflict $24 to $93 billion in damage to homes, businesses, utilities, roads and even parks.
The Jan. 17, 1994 Northridge earthquake is the most costly quake in U.S. history.
The 6.7-magnitude earthquake lasted for 10 to 20 horrifying seconds as the Southland shuddered amidst widespread urban collapse and chaos.
The quake was so powerful that residents of San Diego, Las Vegas and Ensenada felt it. Famously, then-Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan was thrown from his bed on the Westside by the quake, jumped into his car to rush to City Hall, and nearly drove off the 10 Freeway into the air — because the 10 had been severed by the quake.
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In the weeks and months after the Northridge quake, engineers discovered that steel frame buildings throughout the region, using an approach since the 1960s called “moment frames,” were not quake-proof as believed. The most famous of these structures was the quake-damaged Getty Center, then still under construction.
The Northridge quake was one of the most destructive in U.S. history. The most devastating was the severe 1906 San Francisco earthquake and resulting “firestorm from hell” which killed more than 3,000 people.
It took years to rebuild from the Northridge quake, the nation’s first to strike from directly beneath a metropolitan area since the devastating 1933 Long Beach quake that killed 120 and destroyed or badly damaged hundreds of unreinforced brick and other buildings in Southern California, including 230 school buildings.
Today, the region tries to get its residents ready for the next inevitable Big One, in part by urging residents to participate in the annual ShakeOut.
25 years after the Northridge earthquake, what will it take to prepare for the next big one? A smaller one, experts say
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