These Pictures Show What A Major Earthquake Looks Like In LA

In 1994, the Los Angeles region was rocked by a massive 6.7 earthquake that crumbled freeways and left the city in panic.

David Butow / Getty Images

The Antelope Valley Freeway in the aftermath of the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

In the early morning hours of Jan. 17, 1994, a magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck Southern California in what is now considered one of the most devastating natural disasters in US history.

The epicenter of the 1994 Northridge earthquake was the Los Angeles neighborhood of Reseda — a densely populated area of highways, businesses, and residential properties. For nearly 20 seconds the ground swayed violently, causing widespread panic as buildings and roadways crumbled under the seismic force, leaving 57 people dead and nearly 9,000 others injured. Of the most striking images in the quake’s aftermath, the collapse of the Antelope Valley Freeway captured the sheer force of the seismic event.

In the aftermath of the 1994 Northridge earthquake, many changes were implemented in preparation for future earthquakes. Legislation was passed to reinforce freeway bridges, and building codes were adapted to help ensure the region is better prepared for another major seismic event. While last week’s Ridgecrest earthquake was graded at a stronger 7.1 magnitude, the epicenter was considerably further from populated areas than the 1994 Northridge quake. Still, the knowledge gained from studying the 1994 Northridge earthquake continues to play a vital role in helping us prepare for the worst.

These pictures capture the events of the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Southern California.

Sam Mircovich

People survey a burning shopping center on Jan. 17, 1994.

Getty Images, AP Photo

Left: A gas main on fire throws flames into the air after it broke and exploded, destroying nearby homes, on Jan. 17. There were a total of 466 fires reported on Jan. 17. Right: Members of the National Guard rope off a record store damaged in the earthquake, on Jan. 18.

David Butow / Getty Images

People embrace in the aftermath of the earthquake on Jan. 17.

Joe Sohm / Getty Images

A Santa Monica apartment building is left destroyed by the Northridge earthquake in this undated photo.

Getty Images

Left: Vehicles are stranded on Interstate 5 on Jan. 17. Right: A collapsed section of a freeway.

Ben Margot / AP

A collapsed portion of the Anaheim Stadium, on Jan. 17.

Afp / AFP / Getty Images

Emergency personnel carry a janitorial worker who was rescued from a collapsed garage at the Northridge Mall on Jan. 17.

Doug Pizac / AP

A man is treated for injuries at an emergency unit set up in the Sylmar neighborhood of Los Angeles, Jan. 17.

Mark J. Terrill / AP

One home and the remains of another sit precariously on a cliff above the Pacific Coast Highway on Feb. 8.

Timothy A. Clary / AFP / Getty Images

A bulldozer tears down a section of the Santa Monica Freeway that collapsed during the Northridge earthquake, on Jan 19.

Rolando Otero / Getty Images

Vehicles are left crushed under the Northridge Meadows apartment complex on Jan. 17.

Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is seen with cracks and damage, Feb. 3.

Chris Wilkins / AFP / Getty Images

A rescue worker sits in front of the heavily damaged Northridge Meadows Apartments on Jan. 17.

Rick Bowmer / AP

A man sleeps at a Red Cross shelter set up in the Santa Clarita Boys and Girls Club on Jan. 18.

Mike Nelson / AFP / Getty Images

A mother sews outside her tent as her son looks on in a camp installed by the National Guard on Jan. 22 in Canoga Park.

Chris Wilkins / AFP / Getty Images

Residents fill containers with fresh water on Jan. 18 at one of many water lines set up in the area to assist victims of the Northridge earthquake. Local authorities warned residents not to drink tap water after the quake broke many water mains in the area.

Afp / AFP / Getty Images

California Institute of Technology seismologist Kate Hutton uses a graph to point out to the press the starting point of the earthquake on Jan. 17.

Joe Sohm / Getty Images

A man sells T-shirts with a map of the quake in 1994.

Joe Sohm / Getty Images

A Los Angeles billboard advertising a community service for citizens with earthquake anxiety in 1994.

David Hume Kennerly / Getty Images

A man bicycles through a flooded road, caused by the Northridge earthquake, on Jan. 17.



A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.