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Sutro Heights is known among San Franciscans as one of the most picturesque bayside areas in the metropolis; however, the place continues to exude an aura of mystery among visitors.

Located in the Outer Richmond area of San Francisco, Sutro Heights Park was formerly an estate owned by nineteenth century businessman, philanthropist and city mayor Adolf Sutro. He bought 22 acres of land in 1881 situated at the edge of San Francisco with a breathtaking panoramic vista of the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate Strait and Mount Tamalpais. He named his estate Sutro Heights and built an opulent Italianate garden which he made accessible to the public. The garden was adorned with embellished flower beds, forests, viewing decks and statues. When Sutro Heights was turned over to the San Francisco city government in 1938, Adolf Sutro?s house was torn down and the vicinity was transformed into a public park.

Together with the 22-acre land, Adolf Sutro also purchased the already present ?Cliff House? hotel which is found under the perimeters of Sutro Heights and could be easily seen from his house. He bought the property with a vision of renovating it to become a family-oriented destination. However, the existing structure was reduced to ashes when it was burnt 10 years after Sutro bought it. Holding tight to his plan of building a family-friendly place within his estate, Sutro spend a great deal of money to build a new Cliff House. The new building boasts of a magnificent Victorian architecture with eight levels and teeming with art galleries and ornate dining areas coupled with amazing views. The Victorian structure withstood the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, but was unfortunately destroyed in a fire the following year.

The current Cliff House which was constructed in 1909 and renovated in 2002 is not as magnificent as its predecessor. Nonetheless, it remains to be a favorite dining destination in the area. The present-day Cliff House is just a simple structure which houses a couple of full-service restaurants and offers beautiful views of the ocean and the Seal Rocks underneath it.

A stone?s throw away from the Cliff House and guests could easily locate the remnants of the once magnificent Sutro Baths, still found within Sutro Heights. Adolf Sutro invested one million dollars to build the baths. During its heydays, guests visiting this facility will be welcomed by Greek-motif entryway that leads into a glass-walled area with seven swimming pools which are maintained at different temperature levels. There were also trapezes, slides springboards and a high dive for those seeking for a bit more adventure. The success the bathhouse has received prompted Sutro to add a cavernous amphitheater. However, the baths slowly lost popularity and was later closed. A fire in 1966 reduced the facility to the ruins that it is today and is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area. People visiting this part of Sutro Heights should be cautious of the large waves that hit the ruins.
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