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Totem Pole.

Cliff House Totem Pole

Field review by the editors.

San Francisco, California

This Native American totem pole is an easily overlooked landmark along a rocky shoreline of superlatives (the Cliff House, Camera Obscura, Sutro Bath Ruins). It stands at Land's End, next to the Cliff House, a 58 ft. tall cedar log carved by Western Canada Squamish Indian chief Mathias Joe Capliano. The pole, completed in 1949, was a commission for George K. Whitney, owner of Playland at the Beach, the amusement park that once stood along Ocean Beach. Whitney's family members were the inspiration for the faces on the totem.

One newspaper story at the time notes, in insensitive totem-tongue: "Heap big pole, one of biggest in world, it marks Western end of pioneers' trek. Smart, him pioneer. Him not march on into broad Pacific."

The totem pole was damaged and snapped in a storm in the following decade; later repaired and anchored in this spot.

Cliff House Totem Pole

Point Lobos Ave., San Francisco, CA
Along the sidewalk just south of the Cliff House.
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Camera Obscura - Giant Pinhole CameraCamera Obscura - Giant Pinhole Camera, San Francisco, CA - < 1 mi.
Sutro Baths Ruins and CaveSutro Baths Ruins and Cave, San Francisco, CA - < 1 mi.
Beach Chalet: WPA Frescos, Undersea StairsBeach Chalet: WPA Frescos, Undersea Stairs, San Francisco, CA - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Famous Lounging Sea Lions, San Francisco, CA - 6 mi.

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