SAN FRANCISCO --
People who had never seen an ocean have seen one for the first time
from its windows. Foreign dignitaries and Hollywood stars have
dined under its roof. Millions have enjoyed the views of seals
playing on the rocks and in the crashing waves.
The place is the
Cliff House, one of San Franciscos beloved landmarks, which
reopened this fall after a two-year, $18 million
are visiting the restaurants and gift shop perched on cliffs
overlooking the Pacific Ocean on San Franciscos westernmost
Its such a
dramatic spot, said Laurie Armstrong, a spokeswoman for the San
Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau. Its always been a
favorite place to take visitors.
The Cliff House
attracts an estimated 1.5 million visitors a year, and everyone
seems to snap at least one photograph against the backdrop of ocean
and sky -- and often fog.
has changed the structure radically inside and has enhanced the
The 1909 building
contains a gift shop, banquet rooms, a bar and two restaurants, one
a casual, 140-seat dining room called Cliff House Bistro with
windows facing seals, rock outcroppings and the Pacific west and
the city shoreline south.
black-and-white photos of the famous people who have dined at the
Cliff House decorate the walls.
breathtaking views are next door at Sutros, an elegant restaurant
with grand, two-story picture windows that face north and
26,000-square-foot building brings back both the character and the
dignity of the historic Cliff House, said architect David Robinson,
who designed the modern look of the building, which was built with
concrete, copper, slate and glass.
The buildings on
the site have had a rocky history. The first Cliff House was built
in 1863 but was destroyed by fire in 1894.
In 1896, the
Cliff House was rebuilt in the style of a French chateau, with an
observation tower that rose 200 feet above sea level. It survived
the 1906 earthquake but was destroyed by a fire in 1907.
The third Cliff
House was built in 1909 and was remodeled several times before the
National Park Service purchased it in 1977.
of the Cliff House are gone, but plans are under way to have them
reopen on or near the site, according to the park
Mecanique, a showcase of old amusement park arcade games, was moved
to the citys Pier 45 during the renovation. Discussions are afoot
with the museum owners to have the museum relocated to a new
National Park Service visitor center above Sutro Baths near the
The Cliff Houses
decades-old Camera Obscura, once part of a local amusement park and
registered as a historical landmark, is scheduled to reopen after
the renovation of the Cliff House terrace is complete.
missing from the Cliff House is suitable parking for motorcoaches.
The lack of such parking has caused some deviation from city tour
itineraries, which in the past typically featured a stop at the
Cliff House, said Lanae Brown, operations managers for Gray Line of
Theres a place to
park, but its up the hill and to park there and walk down would
take too much time. We havent stopped driving the Great Highway
past the Cliff House, but we dont stop there anymore.
information, visit www.cliffhouse.com or call (415) 386-3330.
reporter Laura Del Rosso, send e-mail to [email protected].