The Loma Prieta was a major earthquake, and caused severe damage as far as 50 miles away from its epicenter; most notably in San Francisco, Oakland, the San Francisco Peninsula, and in areas closer to the epicenter in the communities of Santa Cruz, the Monterey Bay, Watsonville, and Los Gatos. Most of the major property damage in the more distant areas resulted from liquefaction of soil used over the years to fill in the waterfront and then built upon.
The quake also caused an estimated $6 billion in property damage, the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history at the time. It was the largest earthquake to occur on the San Andreas Fault since the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Private donations poured in to aid relief efforts and on October 26, President George H.W. Bush signed a $3.45 billion earthquake relief package for California.
The Loma Prieta earthquake irrevocably changed the San Francisco Bay Area's transportation landscape. Not only did the quake force seismic retrofitting of all San Francisco Bay Area bridges, it caused enough damage that some parts of the region's freeway system had to be demolished. In some cases, the freeways in question had never been completed, terminating in mid-air; in that regard, the quake provided the impetus to deal with regional transportation problems that had gone largely unsolved for decades.
An automobile lies crushed under the third story of this apartment building in the Marina District. The ground levels are no longer visible because of structural failure and sinking due to liquefaction.