Cliff House

I randomly came across this image, below, of Adolph Sutro's now-lost Cliff House, perched on the rocks outside San Francisco. It stood for eleven years, from 1896-1907, before being destroyed by fire.

[Image: The Sutro Cliff House, San Francisco].

This gallery of images is extraordinary; the house is so badly situated on its site that it appears simply to be hovering over the rocks on an artificial ground plane. It's like a continental afterthought, the dream of western architecture pushed beyond its ability to retain anchorage. But it's a cinematic sight, to say the least.

For more about Adolph Sutro, meanwhile, don't miss the wave motors of California.

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Anonymous John Coulthart said...

That marvellous photo is the one used by Blue Öyster Cult on the cover of their Imaginos album:

November 05, 2009 11:50 AM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Ha! I hadn't seen that. Thanks, John. Funny how these images circulate. The architectural imaginary.

November 05, 2009 11:53 AM  
Blogger Writer said...

I've always loved this building. It seemed so magical. Like Henri Cartier-Bresson's photograph of Brie (the dirt road that travels back through the parallel double line of trees). The over-the-top man-made structure in nature seems so fantastical.

November 05, 2009 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Sharmila said...

I love this photograph. It evokes mystery and conjecture and images of windswept inaccessible bluffs. Beautiful!

November 07, 2009 7:47 PM  
Anonymous Dan Gilchrist said...

Wow! Like a scene from one of the Lemony Snicket books. Totally inappropriate and infeasible for its site but makes for great theatre. This reminds me of a magazine ad a few years back for Trex decking featuring a multi-level deck with gazebo perched on a wave-pounded cliff. Alas, it was (very skillfully) faked with miniature modeling and photo editing.

November 09, 2009 12:08 PM  
Blogger gary said...

Here's a close-up of the hovering...


November 12, 2009 10:04 PM  
Anonymous LeeAnn said...

What an incredible house and "scene capturing" photograph! I have to say, it reminds me think I'm inside the scene of an old, classic scary movie!

November 16, 2009 12:27 PM  

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