What We’ve Learned 50 Years Since the Sylmar Earthquake

Posted February 10, 2021, under Blog

50 years ago on Tuesday, Los Angeles was rattled by a 6.6 magnitude earthquake near Sylmar, CA. The quake occurred at 6:00 AM, it lasted 12 seconds, and killed 64 people.

For many Angelinos, the intense shaking from the quake has been burned into their memory.

“I jumped out of bed, waited a moment, and it was still shaking,” Jerry Treiman told the L.A. Times, who was a student at UCLA at the time. “I thought this could be the Big One, and the ceiling plaster might start falling. So I jumped back in bed and put a pillow over my head.”

Treiman went on to work as a state engineering geologist and earthquake risk and preparedness specialist.

The story is not uncommon if you live in California — as Californians, we live with the constant fear of when the inevitable “Big One” will strike.

While earthquakes feel like a scarcity at times, history has shown us California’s earthquake risk time and time again, just as we saw with the 1994 Northridge earthquake that happened a few years after the Sylmar shaker.

While both earthquakes caused death and major destruction in and around Los Angeles, these quakes were actually classified as “moderate” seismic events.

However, California is quite capable of producing earthquakes at much larger magnitudes. It’s happened before, and it will happen again.

With every earthquake in California, geologists and engineers have adjusted our building standards to combat widespread destruction.

For example, after the Sylmar quake, there was extensive damage done to the Lower Van Norman Dam, which nearly erupted because of the shaking. If that had happened, some 80,000 residents who lived downstream would have been underwater.  As a result, Dam building standards were improved and upgraded.

During the Sylmar event, damage was also done to two hospitals in the area, which led to the updating of concrete building codes.

And with the Northridge earthquake, we saw more vulnerabilities  in our buildings with the destruction to soft story apartment buildings and office spaces. Now, there’s a mandate in Los Angeles to retrofit all soft story structures to prevent these structural weaknesses.

The Sylmar and Northridge earthquakes have led to great improvements in building and safety codes in our Golden State, yet there is still much work to be done.

Most of California’s beautiful landscapes were constructed from the raging fault lines that run throughout our state. Living here means you’re living with the constant threat of earthquakes.

As a Californian, it’s essential to protect your property with earthquake retrofitting and make sure your home has been bolted and braced with the latest materials and up-to-date with all building codes. It’s also important to educate yourself on what to do in the event of an earthquake and how to prepare.

If you think your home is in need of earthquake retrofitting, contact Julian Construction today. We’ll conduct a free home inspection for you complete 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 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 call (323) 733-3377 to schedule your free inspection or complete the inspection request form.


0% Financing Available

Find out how easy we make it to get started.

Read More»


See Us on These Sites

Translate »