Texas City Disaster
April 16, 1947
The French ship SS Grandcamp, loaded with 2,200 tons ammonium nitrate, catches firs and explodes in a Texas City, Texas port, leading to a chain of fires and explosions, including a chemical plant, killing over 500 people and virtually destroying the town. All but one member of the 28-man Texas City volunteer fire department were killed in the disaster.
It was the deadliest industrial accident in U.S. history, and one of history’s largest non-nuclear explosions.
April 17, 1964
Ford’s new sports car the Mustang officially goes on sale. At a base price of $2,368, it sold an industry record of 417,000 units in its first year. It was originally intended to be a mid-engine two-seated roadster, but that changed when the sales of the Thunderbird increased after adding a back seat.
San Francisco Earthquake
April 18, 1906
One of the most violent U.S. earthquakes ever recorded hits San Francisco, destroying 25,000 buildings and killing thousands of people. Over 80% of San Francisco was destroyed by the earthquake and ensuing fires. The disaster also inflicted considerable damage to Santa Rosa, essentially destroying the entire downtown area.
Although the Richter magnitude scale was not in use in 1906, the most widely accepted estimate for the magnitude of the quake is 7.9. Estimates of the number of people killed range between 700 to 3,000 or more. The main shock was preceded by a strong foreshock by about 20 to 25 seconds. The main shock lasted about 42 seconds, followed by decades of minor earthquakes.
Between 227,000 and 300,000 people were left homeless out of a population of about 410,000