Temporary Closure of Waters Around Alcatraz Island
From 7/3 to 9/22 a 500’ marine buffer zone is in effect, closing the perimeter of Alcatraz Island to all private vessels to protect nesting seabirds during America's Cup racing. Tours to Alcatraz continue as usual during the races. More »
Muir Beach (but not nearby Muir Woods) closed July 8-November 2013, but local businesses are open
Though Muir Beach is closed from July 8-November 2013 due to construction, the PELICAN INN IS OPEN. Restrooms and parking are not available at Muir Beach. Pacific Way is closed except to residents. Check back for updates or call (415)561-3054. More »
CAUTION: Post Storm Damage to Coastal Trail
The Presidio Coastal Trail segment just north of the Pacific Overlook and adjacent to Lincoln Blvd remains CLOSED indefinitely. We have posted signage to alert bicyclists and hikers and with information for safe trail alternatives. More »
Cliff House History
JULY 2013 MARKS THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF
The Original Cliff House (1863-1894)
After the Gold Rush, San Francisco's population exploded and the city's downtown area got very crowded with new buildings and neighborhoods. Real estate developers, eager to make more money, saw Lands End and its unparalleled beauty as a new place to develop. They constructed the Cliff House in 1863 as a fashionable resort for the wealthy. The modest one-story wood-frame structure was skillfully situated on top of the cliff overlooking Seal Rocks, providing breathtaking panoramic views of the Pacific Coast line.
Victorian Cliff House (1896-1907)
Neoclassical Cliff House (1909 to the present)
After Sutro's death in 1898, his properties were managed by his daughter Emma Sutro Merritt. A year after the destruction of the second Cliff House, Mrs. Merritt obtained approval to construct a third Cliff House. Because so many of the city's wood-frame buildings burned after the 1906 earthquake, builders began to construct San Francisco's new buildings in fireproof steel-reinforced concrete. The third Cliff House, constructed in concrete, was designed in a streamline, classically inspired architectural style; the building settled into the landscape rather than dominating the ocean view. Open to the public in 1909, the Cliff House carried on the tradition of sumptuous dining rooms and elegant entertainment.
World War I and the Great Depression took their toll on the Lands End area and the Sutro family sold the Cliff House in 1937 to other operators. During the 1940s and 1950s, the owners modified the Cliff House several times. In 1977, the National Park Service acquired the property to become part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The National Park Service rehabilitated the historic Cliff House in 2005 to return it to its original neoclassical design. Architects added an adjacent Sutro Wing to improve access to ocean views, allowing diners and visitors alike to continue the long tradition of enjoying the magnificent Pacific from the Cliff House high above Seal Rocks.
For Lands End visitor information, please visit the Plan Your Visit Lands End page.
To celebrate the Cliff House's 150th anniversary, the July 2013 edition of Park E-Ventures has published an article entitled "The Cliff House and San Francisco's Long History of Dining Out".
Additional Sites of Interest
Did You Know?
Nearly half of the serpentinite found in North America is located in California, making it a natural choice for the state rock.