Sunday, August 30, 2015

After Dark Fires near the San Francisco Cliff House

Previously thought this image showed the 1966 fire that destroyed Sutro Baths. However, photos and fire timelines provided by David Gallagher of the Western Neighborhoods Project suggest that my photo depicts the 1963 fire of the gift shop and restaurant between the Cliff House and Sutro Baths. 

According to David the 1963 fire “… was all after dark… It started at 5:30pm and was contained around 9.” In contrast the 1966 fire ”…started around 2pm and was contained around 5pm. It was late June, the longest days of the year.” The comparison photos appear to show the same structures burning and, perhaps, the same firefighter atop the extended ladder.

Dale Wong, high school friend and photographer, did capture some great photos of the Sutro Bath fire. In contrast to the timeline offered by David, however, Dale noted “…photo I took after the initial fire shows the total destruction aftermath of the entrance to Sutro Baths and parts of the adjacent Cliff Chalet business that had fire and water damaged. Although the fire was said to be contained initially by the afternoon of the fire, the night photo that I took later showed the fire was still on going…the fire may have been contained and may not have spread into other adjoining businesses but it was still going for 24 hours from the start. Aside from the Chalet, I do not know of any other businesses that were affected.” Dale's photo:

Thanks to David Gallagher and Dale Wong for their accounts of the fires and photos.

Link to original post about my photo:

Link to Western Neighbors Project webpage:

1 comment:

  1. The bottom photos are of the two "different" fires.... The one of the the left is of 1963 Gift Shop Fire.
    Only Whitney's Gift Shop was destroyed, not any restaurants. Danny's Cliff Chalet survived.

    Photo on Right is POST Sutro Baths fire 1966. The entrance is Gone. Danny's cliff House didn't survive this fire...

    Come check out plenty of Sutro Baths Photos on our Sutro Bath History Group....