Saturday, January 7, 2017

San Francisco's Sutro Heights - Then & Now: 7 January 2017

Starting in the 1880s, large tracts of land located on San Francisco’s Outside Lands were purchased by Adolph Sutro. Mr. Sutro was a German immigrant who had earlier built Sutro Tunnel. The tunnel was a drainage tunnel designed to drain the excessive hot water from the deep underground silver mines of the Comstock Lode which was located in Virginia City, Nevada

Adolph Sutro became a permanent resident of San Francisco after the Comstock Lode Tunnel in Virginia City had been completedHe constructed many landmarks in San Francisco that are popular to this day. Among these were the Sutro Baths, the Mount Sutro Forrest, the Sutro Heights Parapet, Mount Olympus, as well as other resources which were made available to the people of San Francisco. Thank you, Adolph Sutro!

Adolph Sutro also built the second version of the Cliff House, a beautiful seven-story Victorian structure that became, and has remained, the most famous and beloved incarnation of the Cliff House. Both the second version of the Cliff House and the Sutro Baths were opened in 1896. The Cliff House survived the 1906 Earthquake but burned to the ground in 1907, just fifteen months after the 18 April 1906 earthquake. The Sutro Baths were destroyed in 1966. Adolph Sutro was the 24th mayor of San Francisco, serving from 1894 to 1896

Adolph Sutro arrived in the United States on 21 November 1851. He married Leah Harris in 1856; they had six children, four girls, and two boys. Adolph Sutro died in 1898. The executor of his estate was one of his daughters. She was a medical doctor: Dr. Emma Sutro Merritt. It took Dr. Emma Sutro Merritt more than ten years to settle her father's estate. She did an excellent job; her father's name is still remembered and widely respected, one hundred and nineteen years after his death.

I began this ramble by first taking a few pictures at and around the Ferry Building in downtown San Francisco. All of the below photographs were taken in the midst of a multi-day storm which provided the parched Northern California terrain with much-needed rain and snow. I used a waterproof camera to take the photos.


This is a view of Ocean Beach as seen from Sutro Heights. The view is looking south. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.


The San Francisco Ferry Building was designed in 1892 and was completed in 1898. It is located on the Embarcadero at Market StreetClick on the image to see the full-size photo.


Streetcar #1893 was built in Italy in 1928 for the Milan, Italy municipal streetcar line. It is now in service on the San Francisco F streetcar lineClick on the image to see the full-size photo.


Streetcar #1057 was built in 1948 and is painted to honor Cincinnati, Ohio, which ran streetcars from 1939 to 1951. It is now in service on the San Francisco F streetcar lineClick on the image to see the full-size photo.


I took a San Francisco public transit bus to Geary Boulevard at Arguello Street and then began my ramble to Sutro Heights and the Pacific Ocean. This picture was taken on Clement Street. This mother and daughter are thsame people in a photo I took on Clement Street during November 2016. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.


These pictures of Adolph Sutro were taken sometime between 1865 and 1880 by Mathew Brady.


THEN This picture of the Sutro Baths was taken in 1897. The buildings were constructed in 1894. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

  NOW A fire destroyed the Sutro Baths in 1966The rock outcropping straight ahead is known as North Seal Rock. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.


This map of Sutro Heights and Sutro Baths is circa 1896. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.


THEN This is a picture of the second Cliff House constructed at this location. The picture was taken in 1896; Adolph Sutro spent $75,000 to build this beautiful building. The photo was taken from the observation tower located on Sutro Heights Plaza. The Cliff House is resplendent in all its glory. Seal Rocks are visible as is a steam ship about to enter San Francisco Bay. This version of the Cliff House was destroyed by fire on 7 September 1907. A picture of the above-mentioned observation tower may be seen in this gallery of pictures, four photos below. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.


THEN This picture was taken in 1868. It is a photo of the first Cliff House. The photographer was Carlton Watkins (1829-1916). Mr. Watkins was a famous American photographer of the 19th Century. He was born in New York and moved to California. His area of expertise was landscape photography. The first Cliff House was destroyed by fire in1894



THEN This picture is circa 1930 and it shows the third and current version of the Cliff House. Dr. Emma Sutro Merritt, the executor of the Sutro Estate did not want to build another wooden Cliff House because of the proven fire danger. In 1909 she authorized the construction of the third Cliff House. The building she had built was constructed of steel and concrete. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.

      NOW  I took this picture of the third iteration of the Cliff House. The building has had numerous modifications over the past one hundred and five years, but it is still the same basic building. This photo was taken from the Plaza on Sutro Heights ParapetClick on the image to see the full-size photo.


THEN This is the entry gate to Sutro Heights as seen in 1886. The Sutro family donated the 18 acres property to the City of San Francisco in 1938. In 1939 the Works Progress Administration (WPA) demolished the residence. Most of the statues were removed with the exception of The Lions at the entry gate. Sutro Heights Park is no longer a city park, it is now a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation AreaClick on the image to see the full-size photo.



NOW The Lions are still guarding the entry way to Sutro Heights. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.



THEN. The Sutro Heights Parapet and plaza as seen circa 1894. Note the observation tower as mentioned four pictures above, in this edition of the photo blog. Please note the stairway seen in both this photo and the below photographClick on the image to see the full-size photo.


NOW. This photo of the Sutro Heights Parapet was taken from the North Esplanade. Note the same stairway as seen in both of the above photographs.  Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.



THEN. This picture of the Sutro Heights Conservatory was taken in 1896. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.



NOW.  This is the site of the Sutro Heights ConservatoryClick on the image to see the full-size photograph.



Ah yes, this is where the mouth of San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. The view is looking north. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.



Moving through Lands End, and rambling northeast on the Coastal TrailClick on the image to see the full-size photograph.



This photograph was taken from the Lands End Trail. Ahead is a small cove which is known as China Beach. Surrounding China Beach is a portion of the Seacliff neighborhood of San Francisco. The beach seen on the left is part of Baker Beach. Baker Beach is located within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It was previously a part of the U.S. Army Presidio fort. China Beach is a part of the City and County of San Francisco. This view is looking southeast. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.



A view  of the Golden Gate Bridge as seen from the Lands End TrailAngel Island is visible behind the bridge. This view is looking east. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.



A view of the Lincoln Park Steps. The steps were constructed in the early 1900's. During May of 2015, a celebration was held for the recent addition of the beautiful and delightful mosaic tile workClick on the image to see the full-size photo.



Going to downtown San Francisco on a Muni Metro 38R bus. The bus is now on Geary Boulevard, traveling east through the Richmond DistrictClick on the image to see the full-size photograph.


The distance traveled was approximately 6.3 miles (10.1 kilometers). Mile markers are displayed on the GPS generated track. The cumulative elevation gain was about 471 feet (144 meters). Click on the image to see the full-size map.


“A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.” -Dorothea Lange


The first volume of the San Francisco Bay Area Photo Blog contains galleries of photographs that were posted on the Internet between 2002 and 2011. Click Here to view those photo galleries.

An Olympus TG-4 camera was used to take these photographs.

Question or a comment? I may be reached at neil@mishalov.com