- Golden Gate Park“s Sphinxes
The story of the sphinx statues in front of the Memorial and de Young Museums. - by John A. Martini
- Golden Gate Park Lifesaving Station
From 1878 to 1951, the predecessor agency of the U.S. Coast Guard had a station at Ocean Beach. - by John A. Martini
- The Cliff Road Chop House or Death at the Acropolis
A violent death met on Merrie Way - by John A. Martini
- George K. Whitney Jr. Interview, 2002
Interview of George K. Whitney Jr. in 2002, discussing Cliff House, Sutro Baths, Playland, and Whitney Brothers businesses. - by John A. Martini
- Octagon House at Land's End
History of the Point Lobos Marine Exchange Building. - by John A. Martini
- Lands End Station
From 1905-1941, a charming concession run in a picturesque spot. - by John A. Martini
- Merrie Way
Adolph Sutro's Forgotten Pleasure Grounds - by John A. Martini
- George K. Whitney, Jr. Interview
A terrific peek at Playland history through Whitney Jr.'s eyes. - by John A. Martini
- History of Playland
A capsule history of Playland, based on a 2002 interview with George K. Whitney, Jr. the man who helped run Playland, Sutro Baths and the Cliff House - by John A. Martini
Historical consultant, former National Park Service Ranger, and current WNP member John Martini has always been curious about the history of the two lion statues that flank the entrance to Sutro Heights Park. The big cats once formed part of an elegant entrance gate to Adolph Sutro's cliff-top estate, and have been misidentified in some publications as copies of the lions at Trafalgar Square in London. The massive redwood gate was removed at some point and the city acquired Sutro's land for a park after his death.
John found a photo in the Bancroft Library taken around 1885 that identified the right-hand lion as "Lion at Main Gate by Geefs." Aha, a clue! Some more research on the Internet revealed Geefs as the Belgian sculptor Guillaume Geefs (1805-1883). That made sense, as Sutro purchased his replica statuary in Belgium during the early 1880s.
Down the marvelous Google rabbit hole, a little more Web surfing rewarded John with Geefs lions as parts of larger groupings, notably "The Lion In Love" and the Belgian War Memorial "Place des Martyrs-Patria."
John noted "how similar the lions in Europe are to the ones in the park's collection, especially the mouth and paws, although the Lion In Love seems to be having a much better time than the pair at Sutro's."
More from John: "The entry gates to Sutro Heights disappeared in the late 1930s, probably as part of an ill-advised WPA "clean up" of the Heights when many wooden buildings including Sutro's house were demolished. The original lions survived, though, and remained in place for the next forty years. They were in pretty bad condition by 1977 when the National Park Service assumed control of Sutro Heights, missing sections of their tails and paws, and badly weather-worn by the elements. In the early 1980s the Park Service hired a sculptor cast copies of the pair, along with Diana and The Stag, and retired the originals to safe storage at the GGNRA museum storage facility."
Another west SF connection: Geefs also did the bronze statue of the Roman Gladiator in Golden Gate Park across from the DeYoung Museum.
A Wikipedia article on Geefs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guillaume_Geefs
Contribute your own stories about western neighborhoods places!
Page launched 1 July 2010.