Cliff House Project
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"Parapet, Sutro Heights."



Parapet ca1890, A.J. McDonald
Courtesy of the John Martini Collection


"The Parapet. Sutro Park.  San Francisco Cal."
Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke


(WNPCHP WNP136.32)


May 2 1896 - ?


Sutro's receipt for two Parrott cannon, Bercovich Bros, 5-4-1896 (SFPL, SF 57)

"I contacted my friends at the Coastal Defense Study Group and they were able to provide me with some information on the two guns on Sutro's parapet.  They were both 6.4-inch caliber Parrott Rifles manufactured at West Point Foundry for the U.S. Navy, likely during the Civil War.  Sutro bought them from a junk dealer who likely got them surplus from the navy.

The 1910 inventory for the Sutro Estate gives the guns' serial numbers as 287 and 28, and their weights as 9,857 lbs. each.

No idea what happened to the guns, but photos show they were in place as late as 1938 but gone by the end of World War II. Probably lost to scrap drives.

Some people have speculated incorrectly that Sutro used these cannon to salute passing ships. That wouldn't have been possible. Both guns were mounted on makeshift carriages which, if fired, would have turned to splinters on the first shot as the cannon flew across the parapet and the Cliff House died of fright."

John Martini, 1/21/2010



Cannon Balls
July 1 1896 - ?

Sutro Heights, couple posing with cannon balls, possibly 1916
Image courtesy of Frank Mitchell

Army Gun reference

"The cannonballs on Sutro Heights had nothing to do with the two cannons that were once mounted on the parapet. They’re 15-inch shot designed to be fired from an Army gun like above, while Sutro’s two guns were 8-inch caliber navy guns that fired modern-looking rifled shells."  - John Martini  (1/25/2022)



Sutro’s receipts for purchasing the cannonballs exists at the SF History Center

San Francisco Public Library, Box 2, Folder 42. "SH Cannon, Cannon Ball 1896."
July 1, 1896 receipt from Bercovich Bros. for “80 Iron Shot, 32000# @ 11/20 $176.”
With note attached from Sutro's Agent W.C. Little: “ I will give you for the shot, duly delivered at Sutro Heights the sum of one hundred and seventy six (176) dollars.”




ebay image


ebay image


ebay image. glass negative


"Sutro Heights - The Parapet."
Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke


"No. 17, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Stairway Carved In Rock.  Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)


Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke

Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke


Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke


Billington Photo Gallery
Source: SFPL (link)





"Sutro Heights  Apr 9 1916"
Photos from an Ericson family album


"Parapet, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal."
Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke

"Parapet, Sutro Heights.   San Francisco, Cal.   J.R. Billington, Photographer"
Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke


Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke


Parapet Door

Image courtesy of John Ringelmann

There's a rather mysterious "door" structure on the parapet.
Click here to learn more.


"1908 Sutro Heights"


Courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke


"No. 54, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Rock wall and Parapet.  Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)


"Rocky Point below Lower Terrace."
"No. 53, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886,  Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)

"Rock wall and Parapet."
"No. 36, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)


Source: OAC (link)



"62 Sutro Heights Parapet, from the Cliff House"

  The above photograph was most likely taken from the 1896 Cliff House, evidence as follows...

"Using my 3D drawing of the Cliff House and the surrounding area I moved the camera to various locations at the Cliff House and came to the conclusion that the photographer was probably aiming the camera out the topmost dormer window in the roof of the Cliff House Tower. The top image is the sightline out the window and the bottom is the resulting photograph."

- John Hall   3-2-2015

"Another clue to the date is the absence of the two cannon on the parapet. We found a receipt (scan) in the Sutro Papers at SFPL for their purchase in May 1896."

- John Martini  3-2-2015



Album of Helen Read (1907-2000)  more
Photos circa 1927/1928


This is the only photo I've seen showing an urn sitting off the pedestal.







Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke

Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke



- Newspaper Clippings -


San Francisco Chronicle - Jun 6 1920, page 1A

San Francisco Chronicle - Jun 6 1920, page 2A



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