China Basin Building

Valerie Soe

I was working at the China Basin Building south of Market, which is a big ol’ five-story concrete former warehouse. It was the end of the workday and the third game of the Bay Bridge World Series was on the TV in the conference room. Suddenly the building shook violently like a huge hand had picked it up and rattled it around. I could see my boss mouthing “Oh shit” right before the fire doors slammed shut.

After the crazy shaking stopped we all made our way out of the building down the pitch-dark emergency stairwells. I got to my car and turned on the car radio and one of the reporters said he could see the 880 freeway collapse in West Oakland and that there was a hole in the Bay Bridge. When I drove home I could see bricks all over the roadway from buildings that had fallen apart. That was when I knew it wasn’t just your garden-variety earthquake.