Sutro Heights

Comstock Lode millionaire Adolph Sutro bought a rocky 22-acre undeveloped parcel overlooking the Pacific near Point Lobos in 1881 and bought the nearby Cliff House in 1883. He built a mansion and elaborate gardens on the site, opening the grounds to the public in 1883 as Sutro Heights. His heirs donated Sutro Heights to San Francisco in 1938 and the mansion was demolished in 1939. The property is now part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

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Left: Britton & Rey 592, postmarked SF 2/22/1905. Next: Weidner 292, postmarked SF 4/12/1908, shows Palm Avenue, the pedestrian path from the gated entrance at Geary/48th Avenue to the parapet overlooking Ocean Beach. Sutro Heights: Palm Avenue shows many similar views. Next: Britton & Rey 1043. Right: Müller 531. These cards show the Observatory above the parapet ("observatory" as in "structure commanding a wide view"; it was not an astronomical observatory).

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Left: Newman V101 gives a broad view of Sutro Heights and Cliff House #3 from Ocean Beach. It depicts the laying of the Pacific Cable on 12/13/1902, but the card dates from at least a decade later. Postcards showing a specific event are surprisingly rare. Center: Goeggel & Weidner 2, postmarked SF 10/02/1902, shows the Sutro Heights parapet. This inexplicably popular image appears on postcards from numerous publishers, as shown on Sutro Heights: Parapet. Right: Pacific Novelty shows the view of Ocean Beach from the parapet; Great Highway / Playland / Ocean Beach displays other cards with similar views and this photo displays the same view in 2020.

Steve's SF postcard pages: