Saturday, July 02, 2011

Anything Goes Saturday - Cliff House & Sky Tram

Perched precipitously on a rocky promantory known as "Land's End" near San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, the famous Cliff House has been a popular place for tourists to visit for many years. The first massive version, built in 1863, burned to the ground in 1894; it was replaced with another larger Victorian structure in 1896, and it burned up in 1907.

The version you see in this photo was opened, looking quite different, in 1909. It was remodeled in 1949 to look more or less like it looks here. There was the main restaurant, a gift shop (as you can see in the background, a sign claims that it is the "world's largest" gift shop!), a camera obscura, and the nearby Sutro Baths (which once had the world's largest indoor swimming pool). Over the years, many ships were wrecked on these cliffs; they also provided a great view of the Pacific, including visiting sea lions. I love this photo, with the vintage cars (rusty bumpers courtesy of the salt air). Notice the sign for the the "Sky Tram". What was that??

The Sky Tram was built near Cliff House in May 1955, and for two bits, riders could take a slow journey from just below the house to a station built on Point Lobos that also featured two roaring man-made waterfalls. According to one website, "The whole trip took four minutes and you had to walk back." The Sky Tram was in operation until May 1966, and the station was finally torn down in 2000 during the renovation of the Cliff House.

For those of you who are curious, here is a screen grab from Google Maps showing the Cliff House as it appears today.


TokyoMagic! said...

Whaaaaa! I wanna ride the Sky looks like it was a hoot! Oh, and I like the way the building looked in the vintage photo better than in the "today" pic!

Chuck said...

A clerestory on an aerial tram? What the...? Oh...I get it. It's a CABLE CAR.

Nancy said...

wow...why would they NOT put it back the way it was....GORGEOUS! what a beautiful place for a celebration!

when i first just looked at the pics before reading the story, i thought that pic #2 was a piece of the building that fell off into the water! YIKES!

beauties today....thanks for sharing :D

Connie Moreno said...

Hey, that was cool!

cha cha said...

- good lord, the doors are open on that tram! (oh and its a gorgeous piece of work, by the way)

JG said...

The Cliff House appearance today is intended to match one of the earlier versions, 1909, I think. The 40's version did not make the cut. The structure to the far right in the last photo is smaller and hard to see all at once, it is super-modern and extends below the street level with a beautiful modern dining room with a two story glass wall looking out at the rocky coast. It's one of our perennial favorites after a visit to GG Park.

Never heard of the skyway. I would be scared to death of that, everything rots in the salt here, especially steel cables.

In haste...