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Then & Now: Cliff House

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Public spaces change fast here in San Francisco, and for better or worse, it can be pretty crazy when you see what the City used to look like. Every week, we'll bring you Then & Now, a comparison of historic photos of the Bay Area with current views from the same perspective. Have a suggestion for a photo comparison that looks totally different (or shockingly the same)? Drop us a tip in the Curbed Inbox or leave a comment after the jump.

Quick note: See that vertical green bar in the middle of the then and now photos? You can move it horizontally to see the photos side by side

Cliff House c1906 compared to the Cliff House today (blocked by some overgrown landscaping) For almost 150 years, the Cliff House has sat upon the precarious cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Today part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the most recent Cliff House structure was built in 1909 (and incrementally modified) after its Victorian predecessor burnt down in 1907.

The original Cliff House in 1868 compared to the Victorian Cliff House c1906. The original Cliff House was a modest structure built in1863 by Senator John Buckley and C. C. Butler. Wealthy San Franciscans flocked to the restaurant, as well as three U.S. Presidents. It eventually became a favorite spot for frequenters of the Barbary Coast, and became infamous for "scandalous behavior." Adolf Sutro bought it in 1881 with hopes of turning it back into a family place, but the original building burnt down in 1894.

The original Cliff House in 1868 compared to the Victorian Cliff House c1906. Sutro spent $75,000 to rebuild and furnish the Cliff House in an over-the-top Victorian style, and it opened in 1896 standing eight stories tall, with spires and an observation tower 200 feet above the Pacific Ocean. The Victorian version survived the 1906 Earthquake, but burned down in 1907.

The Victorian Cliff House c1896 compared to the Cliff House today. Sutro's daughter Emma had the current building constructed in 1909 in a neoclassical style. The Cliff House was remodeled several more times before the Park Service took over in 1977 as a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. In 2002, the Park Service restored it to its neoclassical design.

All historic photos courtesy of the Cliff House Project / all current photos: Alex Bevk

Cliff House

1090 Point Lobos Avenue, , CA 94121 Visit Website