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Camera Obscura, San Francisco

(4.2/5 based on 20+ reviews on the web)
The Camera Obscura is a large-scale camera obscura, in the Lands End area of the Outer Richmond District in western San Francisco, California.It is located near the Cliff House restaurant, perched on the headlands on the cliffs just north of Ocean Beach. The Camera and restaurant are currently owned by the National Park Service and are within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The Camera Obscura was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001, and is within the NPS Sutro Historic District. It is within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, since being acquired by the National Park Service in 1977.HistoryCameras obscura, devices which project an image of the surroundings onto a surface using only existing exterior light sources, usually sunlight, have a long history in San Francisco. The first recorded reference to one in the city is from the 1860s in an attraction called Woodward's Gardens. A previous incarnation of the Cliff House was noted to have had a camera obscura on its fourth floor in 1896. This camera obscura was destroyed when the restaurant burned down in 1907.When the third Cliff House reopened in 1937, the owner was approached by businessman Floyd Jennings with the idea of adding a camera obscura to the cliffs beside the restaurant. It was installed on the site in 1946 and has been in continuous operation since then.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • We had made the trip to the Cliff House for lunch and came across the Camera Obscura while taken in the views. It only costs a couple dollars but is well worth a quick visit to get some nice views of ...  more »
  • I always seek out obscure things for us to see when we go on a vacation. And this is certainly a random thing but worth the entry fee. Even if you don't think it's as cool as we did (we're a bunch of ...  more »
  • It ain't worth the trip but it's cute if you is already there. There is only so much one can say about this.  more »
Google
  • Doesn't get more awesome. Visitors to SF--you must not overlook this gem.
  • Unfortunately it was closed when I went there today because of the weather. Make sure to check if it'll be foggy before showing up!
  • One of my favorite places to visit. Must go on a sunny day to really appreciate it.
  • The view is stunning, especially at the end of the day. The remains of the Sutro baths are fun to hike around. Love this place!
  • The views from this spot are incredible!