Effects of the Tornado on the Public Square
The powerful tornado strike devastated the important central business district surrounding Gainesville’s public square – indeed, most of the historic film footage focuses on this heavily impacted commercial area. The following selection of movie clips and still images reveal damaged and collapsed buildings, crushed vehicles, piles of debris in the streets – and many stunned people.
Vanishing Georgia photograph hal107 provides a wide angle view of the public square, depicting extensive debris within the cordoned-off central area, lots of pedestrian traffic in the streets, and damaged businesses in the background along Bradford Street and its intersection with Washington Street. Note the smoke rising from some of the buildings.
The hazy pan of film clip torn007, taken from a location on Bradford Street, depicts damaged buildings as well as piles of debris along sections of Main and Washington Streets. Note the many onlookers and vehicles all around the square.
The spectacular Vanishing Georgia image hal076 of Bradford Street reveals dramatic plumes of smoke billowing from one of many severe fires that erupted in the wake of the tornado strike.
This lengthy pan of Main Street from clip torn023 begins at Dixie Hunt Hotel, sweeps by a series of completely collapsed buildings, and ends with damaged but still erect businesses on the northern half of the block. Note the many pedestrians, some with umbrellas to cope with the rain that compounded the miserable conditions after the tornado.
Beginning with the intact Confederate monument (known as “Old Joe”) at the center of the public square, this pan from clip torn026 moves along Washington Street frontage, stopping at the Princeton Hotel. Extensive debris and damaged vehicles litter the public square and adjacent streets.
As documented in this rare interior photograph hal077 from the Vanishing Georgia collection, many of the businesses experienced extensive damage to their interior spaces and sales inventory. Some stores later offered “tornado sales” to dispose of the damaged goods.
Vanishing Georgia postcard image hal097 shows destroyed automobiles and piles of building debris in the foreground, against a background of heavily damaged buildings that include the Coffee Pot Café and other Spring Street businesses.
Image hchp0099 from the Hall County Library Historical Photograph Collection shows the extensive damage along Washington Street on the day the tornado struck – and indicates that workers began to clean up the damage later that same day.