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February 20, 2008

We Almost Lost Our Hearts

~ In San Francisco ~
My daughter and I went on an extended drive
(not planned and a long, long way from our home)
Definitely not well navigated, but we laughed about it together ~
and that's what counts, right?
Now, this is longer than usual ~ so please prepare
for a history lesson, if time permits!

We drove on the Grand Highway, we passed the Cliff House,
unfortunately it does not look like this anymore...
I wanted to share some history, my Great-Grandmother used to
share with me, she so loved to talk about the old beauty and how it had changed to
something different throughout each generation.

It's funny, in that kind of way ~ today's her birthday, just noticed
while posting and looking at the date ~ Happy Birthday Ada Stewart!

I looked up this information on the Cliff House Historical site
I hope you enjoy.

If you click on the pictures below, it will take you to their site.

.Cliff House #1

The first Cliff House was a modest structure built in 1863 by Masters Butler and Buckley. The guest register bore the names of three U.S. Presidents as well as prominent San Francisco families such as the Hearst's, Stanford's and Crocker's who would drive their carriages out to Ocean Beach for horse racing and recreation. In 1881, the Cliff House was sold to Adolph Sutro, a self made millionaire, philanthropist and later, mayor of San Francisco. Seven years later, Sutro built a railroad to bring the general public to this seaside attraction. On Christmas Day 1894, the Cliff House was destroyed by fire.

Sutro spent $50,000 in 1896 to rebuild the Cliff House in grandiose style. Fashioned after a French Chateau, the second Cliff House boasted 8 stories, spires and an observation tower two hundred feet above sea level. Though never a hotel, it served as an elegant site for dining, dancing and entertainment. On the third floor were a photo gallery, reception room, parlors and panoramic views from its large windows. The second floor held 20 private lunch rooms, a large art gallery and a gem exhibit. At ground level, there was a large dining room, parlor, bar, numerous private dining rooms and kitchens. This was the most resplendent and beloved of all the Cliff Houses but it was short lived. This exquisite building survived the 1906 earthquake only to succumb to a raging fire the following year.

A classic Greek portal opened to a massive glass enclosure containing one fresh water tank, five salt water tanks at various temperatures and a large salt water tank at ocean temperature. Together the pools held 1,685,000 gallons of sea water and could be filled or emptied in one hour by the high or low tides. There were 20,000 bathing suits and 40,000 towels for rent as well as slides, trapezes, springboards and a high dive for up to 1,600 bathers. Balmy temperatures and abundant plants enhanced "California’s Tropical Winter Garden".

For those who worked up an appetite while swimming, three restaurants could accommodate 1,000 people at a seating. There were natural history exhibits, galleries of sculptures, paintings, tapestries and artifacts from Aztec, Mexican, Egyptian, Syrian, Chinese and Japanese cultures. An amphitheater, seating up to 3,700 people, provided a variety of stage shows. Up to 25,000 people could easily visit the facilities each day for a mere ten cents ( twenty five cents for swimming). Sutro’s dream was realized as the San Francisco populous streamed to the Baths on one of three five centSutro Baths railroads connecting to the city.

For all the glamour and excitement, the success of Sutro Baths was short lived. By 1937, Adolph Sutro’s grandson realized the baths were no longer commercially successful so he converted the large tank into an ice skating rink. Sutro Baths never regained its popularity and the ice-skating revenue was not enough to maintain the enormous building. In 1966, the site was sold to land developers who began demolition so they could build high rise apartments. A fire quickly finished the demolition work and thus ended the 80 year history of Sutro Baths.

Okay - below, this is us on our way back ~ we finally managed to find
The Golden Gate Bridge - What a beautiful site, poking
out through the fog. She's a real beauty and my daughter has been
intrigued by the details of this bridge for quite a while.
It was really neat hearing when the bridge was built, certain plans
not used that were planned in the beginning. I was impressed
this all coming from my teenage daughter -
it was like being on a field trip for Moms.
An Exclusive Field Trip.

As you can see, the day we picked to get lost, was a rainy one.
But what a feeling driving along with this historical site.
Unfortunately, I only had my phone - I didn't bring
my camera since I didn't think we'd be sight-seeing.
My daughter took these lovely pictures as we
drove along - I think they turned out quite good.

Something to share a few years from now
with much laughter!

Now you know what we've been up to~
Trying to find our way back...

My home is not a place, it is people
-Lois McMaster Bujold

xoxo, Tracie


A Romantic Porch said...

Tracie, What an awesome post. I've never seen the Golden Gate bridge. I would love to. Just think that she took those pictures yesterday is amazing. I've never heard of the Cliff House. But I love history of old houses, so thanks for the lesson! Have a wonderful evening, and thanks for sharing about your exclusive mom field trip!!!! xxooRachel

Siobhan said...

Hello Tracie,

Thankyou for sharing so much infomation with us...I have never seen or been to the Golden Gate Bridge and the Cliff House as I am all the way down in Australia but I would love to come see one day with my family...soon as my little man gets a bit older and he can remember the wonderful times we had! :)

Its amazing how you teach your children all they know and in the end they teach you something lol.

Until next time...take care.

Siobhan xo

Alicia ~ Time Worn Style said...

I so enjoyed reading this post Tracie, I do love a bit of history!
Alicia ~ time worn style


Hee hee i love that your daughter was being your History Teacher! Thats so cool.

tell her they are great pics of the id love to see it for real one day...oh and i could come visit you of course (but please dont take me for a drive...i fear where i may end up...LOL)

But all in all it sounds like you guys had the best and funniest time :)

LUv Ya

Shann xo

Natasha Burns said...

Hi Tracie,
The Cliff House looks beautiful in the old photo, did you manage to get a picture of it as it is today? Wow the pools sound huge, and 20,000 bathing suits for rent? That made me chuckle, imagine renting a bathing suit now!

Pam Aries said...

I was born in San Francisco! This was such a treat to read!

Sharon said...

I love the Cliff House~ well I love anything San Fransisco and the nearby wine country. What a nice history lesson~ I took the time to read it~ lovely with a cup of tea. ~Sharon@C'estChouette

Mandii said...

hey sweet girl! Ive actaully been over the Golden gate Bridge! WOW how cool is that. We went to the States when I was a little Girl.Im definatly coming back one day REAL soon!!Ive given you an award pop over when you have a chance!
Hugs mands

Mixing Whimsy said...

Hi Tracie,

How wonderful for you and your daughter to be able to spend the day together. The Golden Gate Bridge is just amazing. My mother was supposed to ride in the parade when the bridge was first built. She wasn't able to(it's a sad story I will share with you someday),but I think it is neat that she was going to.

Dona said...

What a wonderful trip. Wish I could have gone with you and your daughter. But you made a wonderful memory.

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