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From Whale Mansion To Mega Tower

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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.





[Then photo: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY/ Now photo: Ian Brown] We didn't touch on historic whale Adolph Sutro this week since we've covered his land holdings so much in the past, but one lesser-known whale mansion was constructed by his heirs. Hint: it used to be where a very famous tower now stands.

Built in the 1930's by Adolph Sutro's grandson, Adolph Gilbert Sutro, the house was for him and his mother. Sutro Jr. was a daredevil, working at some point for the Wright Brothers, and the first pilot's license in the U.S. for a water plane. Known as La Avanzada, the house had lots of stained glass windows, tiled fireplaces, and giant wood beams. The Sutros lived there until 1948 when the house and surrounding land was sold to the American Broadcasting Company for $125,000 as a site for their new television station transmitter site, with a 580 ft tower.

The base of the Sutro Tower under construction, Sutro Mansion in the background, 1971 [Photo: Sutro Tower]

The mansion served as the broadcasting studios until 1953, when it became the equipment facility. Broadcasters felt a new tower with a stronger signal was needed, and they decided to build the now-iconic 977 ft tower on the mansion site. Part of the agreement with the city was to remove the house, since they considered it a fire hazard and was already a favorite for vandals. All that remains now is one of the stained glass window rescued from the Mansion's library.

Sutro Tower [Photo: Bhautik Joshi]

· Sutro Tower and Mount Sutro [Sutrotower.org]
· Sutro Tower to Replace Historic Mountain Villa [Oakland Tribune]
· History of Sutro Tower [Sutro Tower]