Cliff House Project

 

Isaiah West Taber 1886

This legend indicates photograph status: green=known, white=missing

 

In 1886, San Francisco photographer Isaiah West Taber produced a series of photographs of then-new Sutro Heights, which had only recently been opened to the public. The numbered series apparently included up to 95 images (possibly more), most of which are included in this gallery.

A few observations on the series: The vast majority of the photos appear to have been taken during winter months since the sun is far to the south. Also, Adolph Sutro appears in many of the views, sometimes posing prominently (No. 62, No. 71) while at other times as a distant figure (No. 4, No. 83) surrounded by Heights visitors and workers. (Going through the Taber photos is almost like playing “where’s Waldo?” with Adolph, who’s always identifiable by his muttonchops and either a top hat or a light colored hat.)

Although all the prints are dated 1886, some must have been taken earlier. Clearest evidence is No. 82, taken from the reservoir across 48th Avenue from the Heights. In the foreground is a cluster of not-yet-mounted statuary, some being uncrated, including the two lions that would flank the main gate. This view had to have been taken prior to others in the series that show the lions in place, perhaps in 1885.

It’s not known whether Taber shot these photographs at the request of Adolph Sutro, or whether he proposed the project to him as a purely commercial venture. In either case, the prints were not Sutro's private collection but rather were sold commercially to the general public. Several albums of Taber’s 1886 series exist in various archives, but none contain the same selection of images, indicating each album was specially assembled based on a client’s choices. None the albums contain the full run of 95 photographs.

In the gallery below we’ve attempted to identify and arrange in sequence as many of Taber’s 1886 photos as possible. There are substantial gaps, though, and we’re hoping other researchers and collectors can fill in the blanks!

-- John A. Martini Historical Consultant  (12/12/2020)



"Adonis. (Antique.)"
"No. 1, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Courtesy of The Society of California Pioneers

 



"Parapet, Cliff House and Seal Rocks."
"No. 2, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Femme Au Serpent statue
Source: OAC (link)
"The Surprise. (Canova.)"
"No. 3, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo" 

 



"No. 4, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, View on Main Drive.  Taber Photo"
 

 

 
"Demosthenes. (Antique.)"
"No. 6, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
 

 



"No. 7, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, View on Main Avenue.  Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)

 

 
  "Antinous. (Antique.)"
"No. 8, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"

 



"Diana. (Antique.) Versallies."
"No. 9, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Golden Gate NRA, Park Archive & Records Center

"Birds Nesting."
"No. 10, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)

 



"No. 11, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Employees.  Taber Photo"
Source: Western Neighborhoods Project

 

 
  "Lion at Main Gate by Geefs."
"No. 14, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)





"No. 15, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Pecheuse au filet et L'Autumne.  Taber Photo"
(The original caption is reversed. Pecheuse au filet (Fisherwoman with net) is on the right, and Autumn is on the left.)

 



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

 



"No. 18, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, View looking North.  Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)

 



"No. 19, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Vase near old Lodge.  Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)

 



"No. 21, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Employees.  Taber Photo"
(Adolph Sutro mid-left)

 


 
"Children Supporting Vase."
"No. 22, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Conservatory in background
 

 



"No. 23, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Vace near lower Gate.  Taber Photo"

 

 
  "Danseuse. (Canova.)"
"No. 26, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)

 



"No. 28, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal.  1886, Old Grove.  Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)

 



"No. 29, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Ships entering the Golden Gate.  Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)

 



"Mercury. (Antique.) Florence."
"No. 30, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
"Venus. (Canova.)"
"No. 32, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)

 



"Winter."
"No. 33, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)
"Gryphon."
"No. 34, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"

 



"Rock wall and Parapet."
"No. 36, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)
"Parapet with Shepherd boy"
"No. 37, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1896, Taber"
Courtesy of the Jim Dickson Collection

 


 
"South View of Beach."
"No. 39, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)
 

 



"No. 40, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Cliff House and Seal Rocks.  Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)

 



"No. 44, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Parapet, Cliff House and Pacific Ocean.  Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)

 


 
"Main Gate."
"No. 45, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Source: Western Neighborhoods Project
 

 



"No. 46, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Dwelling.  Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)

 



"No. 47, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Conservatory.   Taber Photo"

 



"Homer. (Antique.)"
"No. 49, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Source: Western Neighborhoods Project
"Hebe."
"No. 50, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"

 



"No. 51, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, The Satyr's Dream.  Taber Photo"

 


 

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

 

 



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

 


 

"Spring. (Parapet.)"
"No. 55, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886,  Taber Photo"
(Summer statue to right)
Source: OAC (link)

 

 



"No. 56, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Camellia House.   Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)

 


 
"Venus of Milo. (Antique.)"
"No. 57, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
 

 



Sutro Heights 58, Interior of Conservatory, 1886 Taber (GOGA 18391)

 


 
"Danseuse. (Canova.)"
"No. 60, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
 





"No. 62, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Dwelling and Observatory.  Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)

 


 
"Observatory House."
"No. 63, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Source: Western Neighborhoods Project
 

 



"Venus Coming Out of Bath. (Canova.)"
"No. 64, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
"Venus Genetrix. (Antique.)"
"No. 65, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"

 



"No. 70, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Conservatory.   Taber Photo"




 
"Parapet,"
"No. 71, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
 

 



"Old Grove"
"No. 75, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)
"Palms. Grove."
"No. 76, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)

 



"No. 77, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Old Grove.  Taber Photo"

 



"No. 78, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Old Grove.  Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)

 



"No. 79, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Group of Boys.  Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)

 



"Main Gate."
"No. 80, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Source: Western Neighborhoods Project
"Main Gate."
"No. 81, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Source: OAC (link)

 




"No. 82, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, View from Reservoir.  Taber Photo"
Source: Marilyn Blaisdell Collection

 

 
  "Schiller."
"No. 83, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Source: Western Neighborhoods Project

 

 
  "Claquer."
"No. 89, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
Conservatory in background
Source: Western Neighborhoods Project

 



"No. 90, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Vase near Lower Gate. Taber Photo"
Source: Western Neighborhoods Project

 



"Drawing Room."
"No. 94, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"
"Drawing Room."
"No. 95, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1886, Taber Photo"