Date
June 29, 1925
Category
Earthquake
Magnitude
6.8
Media
Building Collapse after Santa Barbara Earthquake
Building Collapse after Santa Barbara Earthquake
Source Santa Barbara Historical Museum
Damage at the Californian Hotel
Damage at the Californian Hotel
Source: Los Angeles Times
Damage to Mission Santa Barbara
Damage to Mission Santa Barbara
Source: Los Angeles Times
Description

The Santa Barbara earthquake struck at 6:44 a.m. on June 29, 1925. The earthquake killed 13 people and destroyed the historic center area of the city causing estimated damages of $8 million ($116 million in 2019). The epicenter was on a fault in the Pacific Ocean off the coast in the Santa Barbara Channel and was felt from Santa Ana, San Bernardino to Monterey County.

The earthen 720-feet long, 25-foot high Sheffield Dam near the city collapsed during the earthquake due to liquefaction of the sandy soil beneath the dam. It is the only dam to fail during an earthquake in the United States to date. The released wall of water poured down the streets carrying cows, trees, cars, three houses and flooding the lower part of the city before draining to the ocean.

Alert utility operators at Southern California Edison and The Southern California Gas Company immediately shut off their utilities and avoided fires previously observed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Santa Barbara used the earthquake as an opportunity to rebuild the city using the Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style, which is one of the signature features about the city. Prior to the earthquake, much of downtown Santa Barbara was designed using the Neo-Moorish architectural style.

Impact to Structural Engineering History in Northern California

The earthquake would be the catalyst for the publication of the first edition of the Uniform Building Code in 1927, which addressed the hazards of structures constructed of unreinforced concrete, brick, and masonry.

Related Organization(s)
  • International Conference of Building Officials
Related Event(s)