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How Bookshop Santa Cruz Became a Symbol of Survival

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 | October 11, 2019

BY WALLACE BAINE

Source: GoodTimes 📸 Credit C.E. MEYER, U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVE

One of the most devastating earthquakes in Northern California history struck on October 17, 1989, just minutes before the first pitch of the first World Series game to be played in San Francisco since 1962. When the quake hit, the shops and sidewalks of downtown Santa Cruz were not as populated as you might otherwise expect on a warm, jasmine-scented fall afternoon. 

Three people died in collapsing buildings in downtown Santa Cruz that day, far fewer than could have been expected to perish under normal circumstances. Instead, many who might have been hanging around downtown on a normal day made the trip to Candlestick Park to see the game or were already home when the quake hit, mixing up their margaritas and making their guacamole while waiting for the first pitch.

Downtown Santa Cruz was about 12 miles from the quake’s epicenter, and it was walloped as badly as any city in Northern California. More than three dozen commercial buildings were leveled by or later demolished because of the quake, including the iconic old Cooper House, the symbol of Santa Cruz. Among the crippled properties was the Bookshop building. The Loma Prieta earthquake should have destroyed Bookshop Santa Cruz, as it did many other businesses. In a physical sense, that’s exactly what happened.

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