The Camera Obscura is a large camera obscura in the Lands End area of the Outer Richmond District in western San Francisco , California. It is located near the restaurant of the Cliff House, perched on the cliffs just north of Ocean Beach. The camera and restaurant are currently owned by the National Park Service and are located within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The Camera Obscura was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001 and is part of the NPS Sutro Historic District. It is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area since it was acquired by the National Park Service in 1977.
Cameras obscura, devices that project an image of the surroundings onto the surface using only existing external light sources, usually sunlight, have a long history in San Francisco. The first recorded reference to one in the city dates back to the 1860s in an attraction called Woodward's Gardens. It was noted that the previous incarnation of the Cliff House had a camera obscura on its fourth floor in 1896. The camera obscura was destroyed when the restaurant burned down in 1907.
When the third Cliff House was reopened in 1937, businessman Floyd Jennings approached the owner with the idea of adding a camera obscura to the cliffs next to the restaurant. It was installed at the site in 1946 and has been in continuous operation since then.
The San Francisco Camera Obscura is projecting an image onto a horizontal viewing table through a reflected image from a viewing point at the top of the building. The metal hood in the cupola at the top of the building slowly rotates, making a full revolution in about six minutes, allowing a 360 ° view of the building.
Light enters the building through an angled mirror in the metal hood. It passed through a 150-in lens. (381 cm) focal length and projected onto a white parabolic "table" in a black room. The origin of the lens is uncertain, but it appears to have been part of the telescope, probably made by the Clark Lens Company of Cambridge , Massachusetts.
The Camera Obscura was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001 for its technical significance. While the exterior of the building was extensively modified in 1957 to appear as a giant camera, the internal workings of the camera obscura, the basis of its placement in the Register, have remained unchanged since its construction in 1946. The external architecture of 1957 was eligible to be assessed for historical significance at the age of fifty years in 2007.
This amazing landmark is located in San Francisco, California and is only a short distance away from:
- The Vulcan Stairway
- Labyrinth at Lands End
- Tank Hill
- Yerba Buena Gardens Sculptures
- Seward Street Slides
- Urbano Sundial
- Shakespeare Garden at Golden Gate Park
- Balmy Alley
All of these wonderful attractions are located just a short distance from our location, conveniently located just down the freeway at 1261 Locust St, Walnut Creek! Stop by for a visit anytime!