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Yerba Buena was a tiny village of sand dunes and small oaks populated with fleas that tormented the few people who lived there. The Gold Rush transformed the sleepy town into the booming city of San Francisco. This cosmopolitan center was jolted awake on the morning of April 18, 1906 as an earthquake hit the city. People were in bed as buildings were leveled and streets rose and fell. Fires broke out, causing more destruction than the earthquake. Four square miles of the city was destroyed by fire and the death toll was 4,000. This was not the first time San Francisco had survived a disaster. The city had burned to the ground six times previously. The mythical bird that is reborn from its ashes, the Phoenix, was adopted as the citys symbol. Did San Francisco survive only to fall victim to a future earthquake? Only time will tell.