Stories from the Epicenter
By The University Library at UCSC
Stories from the EpicenterOct 18, 2020
Episode 1 - Pacific Garden Mall
Producer Daniel Story introduces the series with a hike to the Loma Prieta Earthquake epicenter sign in The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park and a quick chat with UCSC earth science professor Gary Griggs. Then we spend some time with Ross Gibson and, via a 1989 archived interview, Esther Abbott as they describe the creation of the Pacific Garden Mall—the incarnation of the Santa Cruz downtown that existed in the two decades prior to the earthquake.
Episode 2 - The First Thirty Days
Charlie Eadie, who headed the emergency response in Santa Cruz, and Nikki Silva, who spent the few weeks after the quake recording interviews with Santa Cruz locals, take us through the early days after the earthquake. We explore the damage that the downtown suffered, and how a team of city employees and volunteers worked to move the downtown through the crisis to a temporary new normal.
Episode 3 - The Politics of Rebuilding
Rebuilding the downtown meant negotiating the diverging views of progressive and pro-development factions in Santa Cruz. A planning group called Vision Santa Cruz was formed to work through the design guidelines, and a newly created city redevelopment office worked to take those general guidelines and put them into practice.
Episode 4 - Watsonville
Watsonville’s downtown, like Santa Cruz's, was hit hard in the earthquake, but by far the most severely affected group was the large Latinx population who were already dealing with a critical shortage of housing, which the earthquake, combined with a poorly executed emergency response, only made worse. Out of these challenges, however, came opportunities for Watsonville leaders and activists to make progress on affordable housing in the years after.
Episode 5 - UCSC
Unlike the downtowns of Santa Cruz and Watsonville, the UCSC campus was spared significant damage. Campus architect at the time Frank Zwart explains why. But the story of McHenry Library illustrates that the lack of severe damage did not spare this particular building a monumental mess—collapsed bookshelves and piles of books in the thousands that would have to be cleaned up before the campus could become fully functional again.
Episode 6 - The Kids Are Alright
An event like the Loma Prieta Earthquake can look pretty different through the eyes of those who were very young at the time, like a fifteen-year-old exploring the rubble on his bike, or a one-year-old too young to appreciate (at the time) her narrow escape from a falling bookshelf, or the boy whose dad was the park ranger in The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park—the epicenter of the earthquake.
Episode 7 - A Tale of Two Newspapers
Local news reporters cover crises like the Loma Prieta Earthquake, but they also experience those crises themselves, often in very personal ways. For some, like photojournalist Shmuel Thaler, the earthquake opened up new possibilities with his employer the Sentinel. For others, like writer/editor/translator Stephen Kessler, it closed the chapter on his alternative paper venture The Sun, only to open up new adventures in the near and distant future.
Episode 8 - The Memory Remains
Memory is a tricky thing. How does the earthquake look to someone who experienced it in the moment versus thirty years later? In this episode we tracked down two UCSC alums who in the months after the quake were involved in an oral history project—the one interviewed the other. We played them snippets of their 1990 conversation and let them respond.
Episode 9 - Rebels with Rubble
At the thirtieth anniversary of the Loma Prieta Earthquake, there was a high interest in commemorating the event, and a variety of cultural institutions in both Santa Cruz and Watsonville took on the challenge of staging a number of engaging exhibitions and events to help the community mark this occasion. One of the more fascinating of these was an exhibition called Art and Healing put on by the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History that explored the response of local artists to the earthquake. The MAH's Marla Novo and Gabriel Kittle-Cervine interviewed two of those artists—Robin Kandel and Alison Woolpert—both of whom also helped organize the Art and Healing exhibit.
Episode 10 - Epicenter
Another of the commemorative projects that marked the thirtieth anniversary is still ongoing—an oral history project called Epicenter: An Oral History Project of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Project leads Jennifer Hooker (Santa Cruz Public Libraries) and Kathleen Aston (Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History and Santa Cruz Public Libraries) discuss their experience collecting the stories of Santa Cruz locals who experienced the quake. Then, producer Daniel Story provides a conclusion to the series.
Bonus - A Twentieth Anniversary Walking Tour
This bonus episode, produced for the twentieth anniversary of the earthquake by then UCSC instructor Sarah Yahm and some of her students, is conceived as an audio walking tour of Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz meant to immerse you in the downtown as it was in the days leading up to and just after the Loma Prieta Earthquake.
Bonus - Roy Rydell and the Pacific Garden Mall
The collection of interviews that Nikki Silva did back in 1989—several of which feature in episodes 1 and 2—includes an interview with landscape architect Roy Rydell who was one of the designers of the Pacific Garden Mall. This bonus clip features that interview. The clip is introduced by Nikki Silva, and originally aired on KSQD on The Kitchen Sisters show as a coda to episode 1 of this podcast, Pacific Garden Mall.
Stories from the Epicenter — Trailer
Stories from the Epicenter is a podcast about the experience and memory of the Loma Prieta Earthquake in Santa Cruz County, California.