The Northridge Earthquake – 29 Years Later

Posted January 19, 2023, under Blog

On January 17th, 1994, the infamous 6.7 magnitude Northridge earthquake rattled the Los Angeles region at 4:31 AM. The massive temblor lasted roughly 30 seconds, while several equally destructive aftershocks followed for days.

The quake resulted in the death of 72 people and caused 9,000 injuries. Commercial and residential structures collapsed, in addition to freeways and roadways, costing the state an estimated $25 billion in damages.

A combined total of 82,000 residential and commercial structures were destroyed, 5,400 mobile homes were demolished, nine parking structures collapsed and seven freeway bridges buckled, while gas, power, and telephone services were lost throughout the region.

While it’s an event in California history that residents will never forget, seismologists and structural engineers have learned a lot of new information about California, its faults, and its structures since that destructive day.

Most importantly, the Northridge earthquake highlighted just how vulnerable much of Los Angeles’s infrastructure and buildings were in regard to large seismic events.

Most of the apartment complexes that were destroyed and collapsed were known as “soft stories.” Meaning, they were constructed with an open space located under the units, creating a soft, and structurally vulnerable area unable to withstand strong shaking.

Unfortunately, these types of buildings can be widely found throughout Los Angeles. Soft stories were an extremely popular type of build in the ‘60s and ‘70s as the population began to boom after WWII, and the city quickly tried to keep up with the demand. But since the quake, Los Angeles and other cities in Southern California have passed legislation mandating the retrofit of all soft story structures.

In addition to highlighting the vulnerabilities of soft story structures, many single-family homes in the area – especially those built before 1963 – were damaged and even destroyed after suffering massive foundation damage from the shaking. Therefore, experts recommend that homes that have been built before 1963 should be evaluated for earthquake retrofits to better reinforce the foundation in order to withstand the shaking from a large quake.

While the Northridge earthquake caused widespread loss and devastation, it did shine an important light on just how vulnerable Los Angeles’s buildings and infrastructure are, especially when faced with higher magnitude quakes.

“Without Northridge, we probably would have kept building the way we had before—until some other earthquake came along to show us we were wrong,” researcher and engineer professor Mike Engelhardt told Curbed Los Angeles about the earthquake.

If you own a soft story building or live in a house that was built before 1963, there’s a good chance the property and its foundation need earthquake retrofitting, foundation repair, or foundation replacement.

The purpose of retrofitting for earthquakes is to prevent a building from collapsing during seismic activity. A retrofit will help fortify a home and increase its resistance to side-to-side and back-and-forth ground motion.

If you think your home is suffering from a faulty or outdated foundation, contact Julian Construction today and we will send one of our foundation specialists out to conduct a free, thorough inspection with a quote for repair.

We have extensive experience serving our Los Angeles community and nearby regions. In fact, Julian Construction has inspected over 30,000 structures in the area!

Julian Construction was formed in 1994 and our focus has always been on building and maintaining foundations, doing foundation repair and replacement, earthquake retrofitting, and house leveling.

When you work with Julian Construction, you get the principles of the company and the workers of Julian Construction under your home.

And in order to keep foundation repair affordable for our customers, we offer a price guarantee — because we know our quote for repair will represent your very best value.

Give us a call at (323) 733-3377 to schedule your free inspection or complete the inspection request form.

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