Welcome to Curbed's ongoing series titled Hidden History, where Curbed highlights a Bay Area location with a secret past. Maybe it's no longer there, maybe it's been converted into something else, but each spot holds a place in Bay Area history - even if not many people know it. Have a suggestion or know a place with a secret history? The tipline's always open or you can leave a comment after the jump.
Harris house and concession stand at Lands End in 1941 [Photo: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY]
Lands End was a spot of far-away adventure and recreation in early San Francisco, with the Cliff House and Sutro Baths offering an escape at the end of a long ride. Sutro transformed the area, but he wasn't the only one looking to capitalize on the scenic beauty and remoteness—nestled on the cliffs below today's Legion of Honor was another family who were a fixture in the area until the 1940s.
Sutro's passenger steam train from downtown San Francisco to Land End brought visitors to the Cliff House and Sutro Baths, but the United Railroads of San Francisco rebuilt the line in 1905, converting it to electric streetcar operations and constructing a new hexagonal depot near Mile Rock Beach. The waiting room and concession stand was run by Charles Harris, who lived below it on the cliffs in one of the old abandoned cable cars of Carville. The Harris' moved to Lands End after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire destroyed their home downtown, and built up a little cottage around the framework of their cable car home.Harris house in 1937, original cable car portion visible on left side [Photo: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY]
The Cliff Line eventually shut down, but the Harris family continued to live there and operate a tiny restaurant. but by the 1930s, the land became unstable and the station depot building and Harris house slid about 10 feet downhill. The Harris' bolstered the house against the hill with heavy timbers, but it continued to slide. The restaurant had to be demolished in 1937, and Charles Harris passed away a few years later, but his wife stayed in the house until it became too hazardous and was demo'd in 1941. By that time, it had slid almost 30 feet from its original spot.
· Lands End Station [Outside Lands]
· Lands End History [NPS]