History

1863

1863

Charles Butler constructs Cliff House. A real-estate mogul, Butler had initially bought the land as an investment.

1864

1864

Mark Twain visits the Cliff House.   “If one tires of the drudgeries and scenes of the city, and would breathe the fresh air of the sea, let him take the cars and omnibuses, or, better still,a buggy and pleasant steed, and, ere, the sea breeze sets in, glide out to the Cliff House…”the San Francisco Daily Morning Call – June 25, 1864

1868

1868

The Cliff House triples in size. Additions to Cliff House include a veranda, a bar, a ladies’ parlor, a card room and a dance floor.

1874

1874

King Kalakaua visits the Cliff House.

1879

1879

President Ulysses S. Grant visits the Cliff House.   While there, he uses a telephone for the first time. Impressed, he supposes that “in a year or two the world will wonder how it ever did without it.”

1901

1901

1880

1880

  President Rutherford B. Hayes has lunch at the Cliff House.

1883

1883

Adolph Sutro purchases Cliff House. Sutro made his fortune by initially by selling tobacco, and later by providing infrastructure for silver mines.

1887

1887

Parallel, a hundred-foot schooner loaded with dynamite, crashes into the rocks at Point Lobos.   The resulting explosion destroys the north wing of Cliff House, and costs Adolph Sutro $20,000 to fix.

1894

1894

Adolph Sutro is elected 24th mayor of San Francisco.   Running under the Populist Party, Sutro expresses that he is “sick of all the villany [. . .] It makes a man’s blood boil to think that in this free American country such things should be.”

1894

1894

On Christmas Day, Cliff House burns to the ground.

1895

1895

Ben Butler, a massive sea lion who had occupied Seal Rocks for forty years, dies.   He weighed 4,800 pounds and was over 15 feet long. It takes twelve men and four horses to remove his body from the beach.

1896

1896

Sutro Baths is opened. The cost of construction is estimated at $650,000.   The baths were enclosed by 100,000 square feet of glass and could accommodate 10,000 people at a time and offered 20,000 bathing suits and 40,000 towels for rent. The largest baths were filled by the tide, and could be entered via trampolines, flying rings, slides, swings, toboggans, and diving platforms.

1896

1896

The new Cliff House opens for business.   The Sutro Pleasure Grounds, an amusement park, is opened at the same time. Neither of them do well financially, and the Pleasure Grounds close down in 1900.

1898

1898

Adolph Sutro dies of diabetes.

1902

1902

Buffalo Bill visits the Cliff House.

1907

1907

The Cliff House catches fire while being remodeled and burns completely to the foundation.

1908

1908

Construction of a new Cliff House begins.

1909

1909

The new Cliff House opens for business.

1911

1911

President William Taft visits the Cliff House.

1920

1920

The Cliff House reopens for business.

1925

1925

Cliff House closes down   The Cliff House’s revenue suffered due to the passage of the 18th Amendment in 1920, which outlawed the sale of liquor.

1946

1946

Floyd Jennings builds the Camera Obscura.   A previous incarnation of the Cliff House was noted to have had a camera obscura on its fourth floor in 1896. The newer Camera Obscura was remodeled to have the shape of a giant camera in 1957.

1955

1955

  A Sky Tram is built which transports passengers between Cliff House and Point Lobos.   Providing a view of the California coastline and two artificial waterfalls, the Sky Tram cost a quarter to ride and took four minutes to complete. It closed down in 1966.

1966

1966

Sutro’s and the Sutro Baths burn to the ground.

1977

1977

  The National Park Service buys Cliff House for $3.79 million.   The House is immediately made a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA).

2003

2003

Remodeling of Cliff House begins.   The $18 million dollar reconstruction effort would restore the historic Cliff House to its 1909 neoclassical style.

Cliff House Hours

Sutro's at the Cliff House

Lunch
Monday – Saturday 11:30 am – 3:30 pm

Sunday 11:00 am – 3:30 pm
Dinner
Every evening 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Sutro's Bar & Lounge

Sunday – Thursday 11:30 am – 9:30 pm
Friday & Saturday 11:30 am – 10:00 pm
Bar menu daily from 11:30 am – 9:30 pm
 

The Bistro

Breakfast & Lunch
Monday - Saturday 9:00 am – 3:30 pm
Sunday 8:30 am – 3:30 pm

Dinner
Every evening 4:15 pm – 9:30 pm


Zinc Bar & Balcony Lounge

Sunday - Thursday 9:00 am – 10:30 pm
Friday & Saturday 9:00 am – 11:30 pm
Friday Night Jazz 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Lands End Lookout Cafe

Monday – Friday  9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday  9:00 am – 6:00 pm  


The Gift Shop

Sunday – Thursday  10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Friday and Saturday  10:00 am – 8:00 pm


Terrace Room Champagne Buffet

Sundays only with seatings at 10:00 am, 12:00 noon, and 2:00 pm