Stories from the Epicenter is a podcast about the experience and memory of the Loma Prieta Earthquake in Santa Cruz County, California.
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Fun to learn
I wasn’t alive during the quake but love hearing about the experience through various historical and present day perspectives. Great conversation starter with family and community.