Happy Centennial, Cliff House!

Cliff House Sutro Terminal, 1938

Hey, that’s not the Cliff House! No, but that’s how you got there.
The current incarnation of the Cliff House celebrated its centennial tonight with a fundraiser benefiting our friends at the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. (The site at Point Lobos has been a tourist destination since before the Civil War.)  The Chronicle called out its biggest gun, Carl Nolte, to, er, chronicle the Cliff House’s history, enhanced by a cool photo portfolio on SFGate.com.
Rather than duplicate those views of the Cliff House, we thought we’d share this great 1938 photo from the collection of our Board member, transit historian Walt Vielbaum. The two streetcars are on the 2-Clement line, which used to run all the way from the Ferry Building to the Cliff House (and is now about to be sliced back again to terminate at 14th Avenue). The shed belonged to our namesake, Market Street Railway Company, Muni’s privately owned competitor from 1921 to 1944. The ornate building to the right of the shed is Sutro Baths, a grand Victorian pleasure palace with multiple pools heated to different temperatures. It later became and ice rink and burned to the ground in 1966. Just beyond it, out of frame to the left of the picture, would be the Cliff House.
May seem quaint now, but back then San Franciscans and even people from around the Bay would make their way onto the 2-Clement streetcars on Sunday for a sojourn to Sutro Baths and the Cliff House. For a nickel. It was family entertainment at its best 71 years ago. And sometimes there was even a bonus. Note the poster in place of the usual dash sign on the left of the streetcars: “See the WHALE! Ashore at Point Lobos. This car direct.” And if it got foggy, they could just change the sign to read, “Smell the WHALE…”
Happy Birthday, Cliff House. It’s still a great place for a drink and a bite, even without the streetcars.