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CSUN at 40


September 21, 1998

The 1994 Northridge earthquake was a defining moment for Cal State Northridge. Even the most casual campus conversations are frequently punctuated with "Well, before the quake..." or "After the quake..."


One casualty of the Northridge quake was the collection of campus photographs taken after the 1971 Sylmar earthquake. During the 1994 temblor, a container of window-washing liquid spilled, badly damaging the collection.


The collapsed, four-story parking garage along Zelzah Avenue became a worldwide symbol of the destructive power of earthquakes. It groaned and creaked for days and became a seismological lab for engineers and safety experts from around the world. The high volume of traffic caused University Police to request that portable toilets be placed along the east side of Zelzah to accommodate the visitors.


After the quake, CSUN established eight "temporary recovery villages," moving dozens of prefab trailers and structures onto lawns and parking lots to house classrooms and offices as repairs and construction got under way.

'Political science, your class is meeting in front of the blue dumpster.' -- CSUN official, directing students with a bullhorn on the day classes resumed, a month after quake


A state building and safety inspector refused to continue his damage survey in a housing unit after learning that the missing occupant of a smashed aquarium was a 5-foot boa constrictor.


CSUN's logo includes a stylized image of the pillars of Oviatt Library, which was badly damaged in the quake. Extensive repairs were completed this summer.

'If the Oviatt can survive, I guess we can too.'-- Local resident, at library's reopening


Compiled by JAKE FINCH, MEGAN GARVEY, ROB O'NEIL and ERIC RIMBERT / Special to the Times

Sources: Cal State Northridge University Archives; CSUN faculty, staff and students; "Suddenly a Giant, A History of California State University, Northridge," by John Broesamle.

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