07 January 2017

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

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 excessively hot water from the deep underground silver mines of the Comstock Lode, 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. The Sutro Baths, the Mount Sutro Forest, the Sutro Heights Parapet, Mount Olympus, and other resources were made available to San Francisco's people. Thank you, Adolph Sutro!

Adolph Sutro also built the second version of the Cliff House. This beautiful seven-story Victorian structure became, and has remained, the most famous and beloved incarnation of the Cliff House. The second version of the Cliff House and the Sutro Baths was 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 taking a few pictures at and around the Ferry Building downtown San Francisco. All of the below photographs were taken amid 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.

Click on an image to see the full-size photograph.
A view of the Lincoln Park Steps. The steps were constructed in the early 1900s. In May 2015, a celebration was held for the beautiful and delightful mosaic tile work

This is a view of Ocean Beach, as seen from Sutro Heights. The picture is looking south. 

The San Francisco Ferry Building was designed in 1892 and was completed in 1898. It is located on the Embarcadero at Market Street

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 line

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 line

I took a San Francisco public transit bus to Geary Boulevard at Arguello Street and began my ramble to Sutro Heights and the Pacific Ocean. This picture was taken on Clement Street. This mother and daughter are thsame people seen in a photo that I snapped during November 2016 on Clement Street. 

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

THEN This picture of the Sutro Baths was taken in 1897. The buildings were constructed in 1894. 

  NOW A fire destroyed the Sutro Baths in 1966The rock outcropping straight ahead is known as North Seal Rock. 

This map of Sutro Heights and Sutro Baths is circa 1896. 

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 Cliff House is resplendent in all its glory. The photo was taken from the observation tower located on Sutro Heights Plaza.  Seal Rocks are visible, as is a steamship about to enter San Francisco Bay. This version of the Cliff House was destroyed by fire on 7 September 1907. A picture of the observation tower may be seen in this picture gallery

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, and 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 created was constructed of steel and concrete. 

      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 essential building. This photo was taken from the Plaza on Sutro Heights Parapet
THEN This is the entry gate to Sutro Heights as seen in 1886. The Sutro family donated 18 acres of property to San Francisco in 1938. In 1939 the Works Progress Administration (WPA) demolished the residence. Most statues were removed, except for 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 Area

NOW The Lions are still guarding the entryway to Sutro Heights. 

THEN. The Sutro Heights Parapet and plaza as seen circa 1894. Note the observation tower, and in addition, please note the stairway seen in both this photo and the below photograph

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.  

THEN. This picture of the Sutro Heights Conservatory was taken in 1896. 

NOW.  This was the site of the Sutro Heights Conservatory

Ah yes, here is where the mouth of San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. The view is looking north. 

Moving through Lands End and rambling northeast on the Coastal Trail

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 visible on the left is part of Baker Beachlocated within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It was previously a part of the Presidio, an Army military base. China Beach is a part of the City and County of San Francisco. This view is looking southeast. 

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. 

Going to downtown San Francisco on a Muni Metro 38R bus. The bus is now on Geary Boulevard, traveling east through the Richmond District

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). 

"A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera." Dorothea Lange 

"Photography has not changed since its origin except in its technical aspects, which for me are not important." Henri Carter-Bresson

"There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer." Ansel Adams
"The important thing is not the camera but the eye." Alfred Eisenstaedt

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

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

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