Cliff House Project
A Program of Western Neighborhoods Project

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Seal Rocks


"Seal Rocks At Cliff House"
Postmarked  July 22 1911



Photographer: Charles BierStadt




Glass Negative c1915  (ebay image)


"Seal Rocks by Moonlight, from Cliff House, San Francisco"
Copyright 1900, C. H. Graves


Piggott '38


"B 3663  Seal Rocks from Sutro Heights, S.F., Cal.  Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)


Seal Rocks
"Complements of Bixby's Drug Store"


c.1880s Cliff House Copy Film Negative     (WNPCHP)
Interesting early view off the historic Cliff House with daredevil acrobat "Jack Williams" (aka: The Human Fly). He is pictured on top of Seal Rocks
after walking on a tightrope located between the rocks and the Cliff House terrace level. San Francisco, California.
(The above identification was supplied by the seller and is not verified)



"Gardner     Jack Williams"
(Seller credits Gardner as the photographer)


Seal Rock Bridge
(never completed)

Daily Alta California - 26 Jan 1866

Daily Alta California - 27 Mar 1866

Daily Alta California - 19 Apr 1866

Daily Alta California - 1 Oct 1866

This is the last mention of the bridge, so presumably it
was never completed.


Seal Rocks...or is it?

The below image was widely reproduced back in the day, attributed as showing Seal Rocks, but it was apparently false advertising.
To learn more click here.

"B2191 The Seal Rocks near Cliff House, San Francisco  Taber"




Ben Butler

Ben Butler was a celebrity of Seal Rocks during the 1860's.  He was name after Major General Benjamin Butler
of Civil War fame.  He was given this name by Horace Greely of "Go West!" fame.


San Francisco Chronicle, July 7 1895


The San Francisco call - July 07, 1895


Ben Butler's obituary, San Francisco Call, July 7 1895
Ben's obituary even made the NY Times!  Click here


Ben Butler, presumably deceased and on the way to the taxidermist


Ben Butler on display, 1895



"1204 Pacific Ocean---from the Cliff House, San Francisco, Cal."
Continent Stereoscopic Co., Publishers., N. 60 Nassau Street, New York
(click for reverse) (click for estimated camera position)


The Steamer Yale
Image courtesy of Judy Cash Collection


"Album of Sutro Heights"
Shows individual names for Seal Rock Islands:  Arch Rock, Hermit Rock, Repose Rock, Cone Rock



San Francisco Chronicle - May 19, 1887


The San Francisco Examiner - Oct 16 1898


Humorous Tobacco Ad
San Bernardino - 12 Nov 1898


The San Francisco Call - Sept 12, 1903


The Los Angeles Times - Jun 12 1904
"Foo Foo birds" visit
(Further reference here)


The San Francisco Examiner - Nov 26 1906
Strange story of seals fighting with gulls


The Evening Mail - Aug 13 1907



Seal Rocks, taken by John Freeman, 4//14/2014
"Taken from the north end of the bath ruins, on the flat area that was the terminal side of the old Sky Train.  The usual angle to photograph Seal Rocks doesn't
show the hole, but from the far side of Sutro Baths it shows up."


Seal Rocks at very low tide, taken Jan 3, 2018
Image courtesy of Don Holmes