Today in L.A., March 10

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March 10, 1933

The Long Beach Earthquake

A few residents may be able to recall the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake, which occurred 78 years ago today. Credited as the first major earthquake in the history of the City of Los Angeles, the disaster shook some sense into the young city in regards to earthquake preparedness. Many public buildings, including schools, collapsed during the earthquake. Luckily, schools had been dismissed hours earlier so most were empty when the quake struck. Estimated at a 6.4 magnitude, it did little damage to reinforced concrete buildings such as the Civic Center and City Hall, both which showed only a few cracks. In total, the quake caused $35 million in damages and took 140 lives. Because of how poorly the schools weathered the quake, earthquake-resistant schools became a mandatory in California. Within the decade, similar requirements spread to other public buildings and eventually to the private sector. Much stronger quakes that would later occur in Sylmar in 1971, and Northridge in 1994, would do less damage thanks in part to lessons learned from the destruction of 1933.