Then and Now

‘Then and Now’: Cliff House

Below: The second Cliff House and Seal Rocks from Ocean Beach, circa 1900. The original Cliff House was built in 1863 and burned down on Christmas Day, 1894. Adolph Sutro rebuilt the Cliff House, pictured above, in 1896 as a seven-story Victorian chateau. Some referred to it as “the Gingerbread Palace.” It was constructed the same year work began on the Sutro Baths in a small cove immediately north of the restaurant. The second Cliff House survived the 1906 earthquake, but burned to the ground on Sept. 7, 1907. Photo courtesy of a private collector/Western Neighborhoods Project/OpenSFHistory.

Above: A considerably more understated building was the Cliff House restaurant until it closed on Dec. 31, 2020. Photo by Michael Durand.

If you have a historical photo of your home, business, neighborhood or some other part of the Richmond District and would like to submit it along with a current-day picture for consideration for publication, send an email to

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