Airship over destroyed 1906 San Francisco

I have been listening to one of Martin Liedtke's videos today, and he showed one of the most famous post-calamity photographs of San Francisco. His image had the below airship depicted on it.
  • The Video - listen for Martin's picture related opinion.

Here is a screenshot of the photograph.


As far as I understand, these here are the alleged original scans of this photograph. Needless to say, there is no airship on these.
I did some searching around, and found this page, but the image cannot be enlarged. I also found this photograph. Right next to the airship we have "Think Atheist". Additionally, we have the airship "equipped" photograph here (7000px by 2748px), but there is no "Think Atheist" next to the aircraft.

KD: Considering that most of the sources of this particular photograph are various desktop wallpaper websites, I doubt that the "airshipped" photograph is legit. At the same time... stranger things happen.
  • What do you think we are looking at here? Steampunk photoshop or not?
Copied an 1896 San Francisco Newspaper Sketch from the The Awakening/ discussion board. This sketch depiction is from eyewitnesses that stated they saw the airship over Sacramento. It looks similar to the picture above - wonder if the airship was vacationing over the skies for a decade or so??

Screenshot 2021-06-28 at 20-56-00 The Awakening - Truth 24 7.jpg
This airship depiction reminds me of the "Inconvenience".

The "Inconvenience" is the airship operated by five main characters, called "Chums of Chance", of the 2006 Thomas Pynchon novel "Against the Day".

This airship is so central to this book and the rest of the work of Pynchon it is depicted on the main page of "Pynchon Wiki", one of, if not the most comprehensive resource about Pynchon's work on the Internet. This illustration is also on the cover sleeve of my printed version of the book (coming back to this at the bottom of post).


Pynchon Wiki Main Page, including airship visual, from the Pynchon Wiki Main Page
Original URL of above image file: Link
Pynchon Wiki, details on the "Chums of Chance", URL Chums of Chance - Thomas Pynchon Wiki | Against the Day

The narrative of "Against the Day" begins at the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition 1893, which has been the subject of other posts on this page.

At this point, I would like to emphasize my post references both literature and official historic records the literature is referencing. To illustrate why I still decided to post it in this way, I would like to give the following quote to show the spotlight other people put on Pynchon's work.

The "essay argues that Thomas Pynchon’s three novels 'Gravity’s Rainbow', 'Mason & Dixon' and 'Against the Day' can profitably be read together as an ambitiously conceived world-historical trilogy which tells the story of the gestation and emergence of our contemporary global reality."

Quoted from this essay:
Andersen, T R 2016 Mapping the World: Thomas Pynchon’s Global Novels. Orbit: Writing around Pynchon, 4(1): 1, pp. 1–40, DOI: Mapping the World: Thomas Pynchon's Global Novels, alternate URL (PDF) Mapping the World: Thomas Pynchon's Global Novels

There are some Wikipedia resources on "Against the Day" and Thomas Pynchon, to get an idea of the book's plot quickly and who the author is, an enigma in himself from the start of his career. To give a hint what you're dealing with: Pynchon sent an actor to accept the national book awards in 1973, supposedly to hide his identity, instead of appearing himself. I should warn the reader however: it might result in more questions than it answered for me.
Coming back to the airship illustration, the tower shown is the "St Mark's Campanile, the bell tower of St Mark's Basilica in Venice, Italy."
The real campanile collapsed into a pile of rubble in July 1902. You will like the official story about the collapse.
The following photo is from the Wikipedia article on the campanile made on July 14 1902, according to the source, the day of the collapse.


Thank you very much for the great content on this website and the form in which it is presented. Wishing strength and all the best in the most informal way possible.

Edit: typos, errors in URLs and text.
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Another "campanile" is the Sather Tower in San Francisco. I pulled the photo from its english Wikipedia article.
"Sather Tower is a bell tower with clocks on its four faces on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. It is more commonly known as The Campanile [..] for its resemblance to the Campanile di San Marco in Venice. It is a recognizable symbol of the university." (Wikipedia: Sather Tower)


I'm not sure if it's okay to post this image due to copyrights, yada yada. I attached the "preview" image, which I downloaded from Alamy.

Alamy: Aerostat. Engraving in "The Illustration", 1887, Preview image, downloaded from on September 6, 2021:


I get much better image search results, when searching for aerostat instead of airship. Aerostat is a generic term for airships. This understanding also corresponds to the definition of aerostat in the Cambridge Dictionary.
aerostat: an aircraft such as a hot-air balloon or an airship, that rises off the ground using a gas that is lighter than air (Cambridge Dictionary: aerostat)
Previously, I understood an aerostat would always be a stationary aircraft, which is not the correct meaning of the word. Wikipedia also uses the term aerostat with this meaning.
An aerostat (from Greek ἀήρ aer (air) + στατός statos (standing), through French) is a lighter-than-air aircraft that gains its lift through the use of a buoyant gas. Aerostats include unpowered balloons and powered airships. (Wikipedia: Aerostat)

During the First World War, slightly different implementations of incendiary bombs have been dropped from airships. I found photos of a larger conical design, as well as cylindrical weapon designs, of which I posted a porcelain model showing the coat of arms of Liverpool.
The above porcelain model does not seem to be life size.

About the actual size and construction I could find the following.
The Goldschmidt Incendiary Bomb was 50cm high, 18cm in diameter, and would have weighed about 10kg when complete. It consisted of an inner metal cylinder filled with thermite, surrounded by a this sheet metal container filled with 3.5 litres of benzol. The outer shell was wrapped with tarred rope, which helped prevent the dispersion of the benzol, as well as being flammable itself. (British Imperial War Museum: (Zeppelin) Goldschmidt Incendiary Bomb)
Another website features an eyewitness report of such a bombing and photographs of burnt down bombs of this type, that could be salvaged.
On the night of the 9/10 may 1915 the German military made their second bombing raid on the UK this time choosing Southend as the target. The ship was the LZ.38, captained by Hauptmann Erich Linnarz. He made two successful bombing runs over Southend dropping nearly 100 bombs, mainly incendiary, and causing a lot of damage and one death. (Benfleet Community Archive: Zeppelin Raid on Southend, An eye witness report)
100 bombs of the above design would yield a total weight of about 1 ton, which is about 2,200 pounds. This would easily fit a lifting capacity of airships today - I don't see why that shouldn't have been possible in the past, as the designs of aerostats haven't changed substantially.
Aerostats today are capable of lifting a payload of 3,000 pounds (1,400 kg) to an altitude of more than 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi) above sea level. (Wikipedia: Airship)
Photographs of typical devastations to urban structures caused by the carpeting with such devices are available online.

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