The Cliff House has always been one of the true San Francisco icons. It went through several major incarnations since its humble beginnings in 1858 when Samuel Brannan built the first version out of the lumber salvaged from a ship that broke down on the basalt cliffs below.
The 7 story Victorian Chateau pictured in this post was built in 1896 by Adolph Sutro. It survived the 1906 earthquake with little damage, but burned to the ground in less than 2 hours on September 7, 1907, after existing for only 11 years. Luckily at the time of the fire the hotel had no guests as it was undergoing renovations.
Today's version of the cliff house is much simpler and serves as a restaurant.