TELEPHONES SOON IN
DAMAGE TO THE SYSTEM LESS SERIOUS THAN
WAS AT FIRST SUPPOSED.
The telephone system of San Francisco is less badly crippled by the
earthquake and fire than the public has been led to suppose, and General
Manager [Louis] Glass [of Pacific States Telephone and Telegraph Co.]
announces that phones will be in operation quite generally throughout the
unburned district within a few days, and in the burned district as rapidly as
there is a demand for telephones.
"Our losses, so far as we can estimate," said Mr. Glass yesterday, "are
approximately $1,800,000, against which we have insurance of about
$1,600,000. Our entire underground cable system is intact, which fact may
simplify, in a great measure, the restoration of the telephone service
throughout the city. We have through cables in large numbers connecting
the different operating offices, and distributing cables which are looped out
into every block. These cables, which we call laterals, were all burned off
where they entered the block, and we now have forces of men cutting off
these laterals in the manholes and soldering them to keep out moisture.
"We have lost, so far as we can estimate,
about 33,000 subscribers out of 52,000. We lost six operating buildings, in
addition to our main executive building on New Montgomery street. These
operating buildings were located at 216 Bush street which was the old main
exchange; 435 Bush street, our new main exchange; Jessie street above the
Mint; the exchange building in the 1700 block of Mission street; the new
building at New Mission and Fourteenth streets; [Mission and McCoppin]
and the exchange on Hyde street above Sutter. The building at 435 Bush
street, although burned out completely, was a structural steel affair, and is
not injured. The building on Hyde street, above Sutter, although completely
burned out, is also in good shape. The building at New Mission and
Fourteenth streets is also structurally uninjured, and these three buildings
can be put in order for the resumption of business in thirty days.
"We saved the building on Page street, between Steiner and Pierce, known
as the Park Exchange, which serves 8000 subscribers. This building was
worse shaken than any of our other buildings, but we have strengthened it
with a lot of truss work inside, and it can be operated immediately. Then
we have the building at Pine and Steiner streets, serving 11,000
subscribers. These two exchanges will serve the entire unburned district,
and we will have all the phones working as fast as they can be put in order.
One of the difficulties under which we are working in the unburned district
grows out of the fact that we were required by the citizens' committee to
sever all house connections along the routes where the United Railroads
was given permission to operate its cars, as well as along the routes where
it is proposed to resume street lighting. This work was promptly done, and
we have not yet restored these connections, nor been given permission to
do so. The disconnections thus made affect the telephone service not only in
the blocks along the street railway and lighting routes, but in adjoining
blocks as well.
"I should say, however, that we have, roughly speaking, 1000 phones in
working order, and perhaps 4000 that can be used immediately after they
have been inspected and the current turned on. Up to this time we have
been troubled for want of power. We relied upon the San Francisco Gas
and electric company for power. We installed a gasoline engine, with a
generator attached, to restore our batteries in the exchange at Pine and
Steiner streets. This proved inadequate, and we sent to Los Angeles and
Seattle for additional apparatus. We succeeded last night in getting stored
up so that we could cut in all the telephones we wanted, but we are still
struggling with other problems.
"Before there can be any general resumption of service we will have to
interview our old subscribers. Many locations have been changed
throughout the unburned district, and new offices have been established
quite generally. This work of renewing and restoring connections is
progressing as rapidly as our large force of workmen can accomplish it. It
might be of interest to the public to know we are getting out a new
telephone directory, and expect to have it printed in about a week.
As to the burned district, we will be in a position to restore telephone
service to all locations as rapidly as phones are desired. By Wednesday we
will have a new switchboard in operation at our new main exchange at 435
Bush street. many applications for phones throughout the burned district
are now coming in, and they will be operated from our main exchange on
Bush street until our other operating buildings can be put in working
order. our engineering department has made estimates for new
switchboards to replace those burned out, and they have been sent East. All
our new switchboards will have to come from the East, but deliveries will
be prompt. Our orders will be given precedence over those from other
cities. We are now making maps and drawings for the remainder of our
reconstruction and everything will be rehabilitated and placed in the shape
we had designed before the fire.
"All our long distance lines, were unaffected by the earthquake, and since
we restored connections through the burned district we have handled more
long distance telephone business than ever. We have been doing a
tremendous business. The fire seems to have created a boom in
telephoning. Our engineering offices have been established at Scott and
Pine streets, and our auditing department will open tomorrow at our new
South exchange on Hyde street above Pine.
"Just what was saved from the flames in the new executive building on New
Montgomery street cannot be said positively, but the vaults, which
contained all of the company's books and accounts, are believed intact."
San Francisco Chronicle
April 30, 1906
Page 10, column 3
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