Sea Cliff - History

Sea Cliff

(Research submersible: t. 21; l. 26', s. 2.6 k.; cpl. 2
max. operating depth 5,280'+)

AUTEC I, a research submersible built by the Electric Boat Division of the General Dynamics Corporation Groton, Conn., was renamed Sea Cliff on 3 December 1968; launched on 11 December 1968; sponsored by Mrs. Thomas B. Owen, and accepted by the Navy on 25 September 1970.

In November, Sea Cliff was assigned to Submarine Development Group One, San Diego, where, accompanied by a mother ship, Maxine D, she has performed research work into 1974. She has a submerged endurance of eight hours, a life support of 100 man hours, and a payload of 1,200 pounds.

Phoebe H. Brown

The Great Earthquake and Fire brought her family to build Sea Cliff's first residence.

First House of Sea Cliff

(Originally published in the Noe Valley Voice, in "Florence's Family Album - From the Ashes of 1906", April 2001)

Every April, many of us dwell upon a terrible disaster (besides our tax returns): the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906. The 65-second temblor struck our fair city in the early hours of Wednesday, April 18. The raging fire that followed left four square miles of destruction.

Although my family, in Idaho at the time, had little knowledge of the event, our late friend Phoebe Brown and her family lived through the disaster and dealt with it bravely. The Brown family lived in a lovely, well-appointed home on Van Ness Avenue. After the powerful jolt struck---it was later determined to be 8.0 on the Richter Scale---the Browns' house was still standing, but listing to the rear. All its contents--the furniture, china, portraits---had been thrown to the floor and shattered. But luckily, none of the family members was harmed.

Within minutes of the quake, the city's residents realized that few of the conveniences they depended on---gas, electricity, telephones, elevators, even streetcars---were working. More importantly, the water lines had been cut, so water to drink, and water to stop the fire that was devouring the wooden buildings downtown, was in short supply. Fire Chief Dennis Sullivan was unable to lead the fight against the spreading conflagration because a chimney had fallen on his bed during the quake, breaking both his legs. (His even less fortunate assistant had been killed instantly.)

At Midday, the residents of Van Ness Avenue watched anxiously as the billowing flames drew closer, and Mayor Eugene Schmitz was forced to dynamite rows of Victorians to prevent the inferno from claiming the entire city. San Franciscans were given short notice to gather their most precious possessions and join the mass of humanity, carrying, pushing, and pulling what was left of their worldly goods.

Phoebe Brown was just a toddler at the time, so she later said she barely remembered the quake. Her parents and two older brothers came away with much stronger impressions, however. her mother, Helen Hillyer Brown, wrote a vivid account of their experiences, intending to send it as a letter to worried friends and relatives.

Helen Brown described how the family piled their belongings into a light horse carriage called a Victoria (after Queen Victoria). It seated two, with a folding top, and was strong enough to carry two loads of the Browns' household goods to higher ground. She also wrote that all of the parks (including Dolores Park in the Mission) were turned into tent cities, with both the Army and civilians acting as overseers to enforce health and safety rules. Fortunately, the weather was mild, and the people remained in good spirits.

Phoebe's father, Phillip King Brown, was a physician. After he learned that his downtown medical office had gone up in flames, he took over an empty house to care for the injured, aged, and infirm victims of the quake. His wife helped to gather the names of the living, for hundreds (674, according to early reports) were either dead or missing, and 28,000 buildings were destroyed.

Amazingly, the city made a rapid recovery from the devastation, and within two years, in 1908, the Brown family moved into their new home, the first residence built on the bluff at Sea Cliff, overlooking Baker Beach and the inlet to San Francisco Bay.

One 25th Avenue

Leo and I first visited the house about 50 years ago, when Phoebe Brown, whom he'd met while working for the San Francisco Planning Department, invited us to dinner. Phoebe loved to entertain and was a gracious hostess.

I recall how we wielded the heavy oak bronze knocker on the massive oak front door. Upon entry, we were struck by the elegance of the large rooms. the bookcases were filled with leather-bound volumes, and the floors were covered with luxurious patterned carpets (like the kilims at Nomad Rugs or Artemisia on 24th Street).

There were art objects from all over the world in the living room, but the one that caught my attention was a painting in an ornate gold frame over the fireplace. It was an oil that depicted a hillside of golden dried grass with a barely trodden, meandering path and a few oak trees in the background. When I told Phoebe how much I admired the tranquil scene, she happily revealed the painting's history.

The landscape had been given to her father and mother as a wedding present by the artist, William Keith, who was a personal friend. The framed painting had been hanging in their sitting room that fateful day in 1906 when the order came to abandon their home on Van Ness Avenue. Transporting such a heavy, unwieldy object was out of the question, but the thought of allowing this treasure to be blown up was too painful to bear, so Mrs. Brown cut the canvas out of the frame, rolled it into a tube, and tucked it under her arm, saving it for posterity.

William Keith, born in Scotland in 1839 (he died in 1911), was an extremely popular and prolific painter in California. He often went on mountain trips with his friend, the naturalist John Muir. Muir used to chide his artist friend about taking liberties with Mother Nature, because Keith felt obliged to move or omit a tree in order to improve the composition of his paintings.

You can find William Keith's work in most California museums. In fact, I made a point of taking one last look at his painting of a glorious sunset shining through a stand of oak trees, before the de Young Museum closed for retrofitting last December.

Though she never married, Phoebe Brown attained great stature as an architect and lived a rich, full life. She was active in so many causes that photographer Ansel Adams once noted that whenever there was some important civic or environmental issue pending you would find Phoebe Brown in the middle of it and on the right side!

Throughout her bust life, various friends and relatives asked for copies of her mother's earthquake account, which she provided in handwritten form. This chore became so time-consuming that she finally decided to produce it in type. In 1956, she engaged my man Leo to design and print The Great San Francisco Fire, by Helen Hillyer Brown, on his printing press in our basement. It was so well received that a second printing, in 1976, was done by our son Eric, at his print shop on Mission Street near 30th.

The book is now "out of print" and sadly Phoebe is no longer with us to order another edition. She died in 1990 at the age of 86.

With her going, the Brown home was sold to a man from the East Coast, then resold to a couple who have established deep roots in our city, none other than San Francisco Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein and his wife, actress Sharon Stone. (You will not be able to recognize the house today using the old photograph shown on this page, because other large homes of distinction have sprung up all around it.)

Nevertheless, I'll always think of the house as Phoebe and her family's refuge and reward after surviving the Great Quake of 1906.

Image: One 25th Avenue in 1908 by Phoebe H. Brown, courtesy of Leo and Florence Holub.

95 Tenth Avenue
Sea Cliff, NY 11579

Museum Hours

Office Hours
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

Monday and Wednesday
12pm - 5pm

(516) 801-3201

Join us!

Docents are needed to work on Saturdays from 11-2. Docents guide visitors through our exhibits and run the gift shop. If you can spare a few weekend hours every other month, please call 516-801-3401 or email [email protected] for further information.

Without our wonderful docents, the museum could not be up and running. Please join our group if you are interested in volunteering.

Sea Cliff history resembles present state

Jean Davis looked out over Long Island Sound from Memorial Park at the children learning to sail, recalling the days she spent on the beach and swimming in Hempstead Harbor as a child.

“Sea Cliff was probably the nicest place to be a child,” said Davis, 88, co-historian for the village. “I would get up in the morning, do some chores for my mother, pack my lunch and be down at the beach by 9 o’clock. We lived on that beach.”

Where she stood was once Battershall Inn, a large hotel at the western end of Sea Cliff Avenue, which invited New Yorkers to spend their summer nights dancing with their families. There were more than 20 hotels and boarding houses in Sea Cliff in the early 1900s.

“The village of Sea Cliff just sort of grew and solidified into a village as people built more and more houses and as they went further and further away from the water,” Davis said. “For a while, it wasn’t incorporated and then in the 1800s they decided they’d better incorporate.”

It started in 1871 when the Metropolitan Campground Association thought Sea Cliff would be an ideal place to hold religious summer camp meetings for New Yorkers. So they purchased 200 acres from the first family to settle there, the Carpenters, and established a new community.

The group eventually built a steamboat pier, a boardwalk and a tabernacle that seated 5,000.

Over the next 20 years, more and more people came to Sea Cliff for camp meetings, and in 1883, the village officially became incorporated. Sea Cliff’s first president was F.W. Geissenhainer, described by Davis as a good man who held extravagant dinner parties and did a lot for his community.

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Later on, families that settled there frequently sold 40-by-60-foot plots to those who were looking to stay permanently.

“The population was working people from Brooklyn because they were the ones that could afford to build houses,” Davis said. Today, the population of Sea Cliff is close to 5,000.

Davis said the village had twice the population in the summer than in the winter because of the large number of summer cottages built.

She added that the village has a strong artistic background and is still involved in organizing musical performances, art shows and plays. The village recently built a stage near the pavilion at Sea Cliff Beach for Friday night performances.

“When the Methodists gave up the tabernacle, a drama group bought the tabernacle and made a theater out of it,” Davis said. “Every Saturday night, there was another show to go to. We had Edward Horton and all kinds of old movie people out of the ’20s and ’30s.”

Much like the family pharmacy Schoelles, which made its famous homemade ice cream from early in the 20th century until it closed in the 1990s, today’s Sea Cliff businessmen and women still wave out their doors at passersby, much of the time calling out names.

“People lose their hearts to Sea Cliff because it has stayed decent,” Davis said. “People are nice, they’re kind and they’re friendly. When someone moves in, someone will show up with bread, a pie or a bowl of soup. It’s still done here.”

Today, Sea Cliff has churches, a firehouse that was organized in 1884, more than 40 Victorian homes pending approval by the National Register of Historic Places, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks with staircases leading down to the beach, numerous parks, two libraries, a museum, post office and several businesses along the main strip.

“This is why they come, because they can sense this is a place they can raise their kids,” Davis said. “They want what’s here to rub off on their kids. I’m not saying other towns don’t do this. I’m just saying with Sea Cliff being 1 square mile it becomes obvious.”

History of the Seacliff Beach Cement Ship

One of the most remarkable landmarks along the Santa Cruz coastline is the S. S. Palo Alto, more traditionally known as the old “cement ship”. Lodged at the end of the Seacliff State Beach fishing pier in Aptos, the ship remains a nostalgic symbol of local life and activities from the past.

Long before the waves and winter storms cracked the hull and sunk the ship into the sand, the S. S. Palo Alto was a 435-foot long, 7,500-ton oil tanker built for use during World War I. When the U.S. government commissioned new ships to replace those destroyed by German submarines, the U.S. Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation built ships from reinforced concrete, using technology developed by a Norwegian civil engineer, Nicolay Knudtzon Fougner, and his brother Hermann.

In 1919, the Palo Alto was constructed along with a sister ship, the Peralta, at the U.S. Naval Shipyard in Oakland, by the San Francisco Shipbuilding Company. The cement used for building the ship’s thin concrete hull came from Davenport, and it is thought that some of the brick used in place of gravel to lighten the weight was rubble from the San Francisco earthquake. The ship was equipped with a 2,800 horsepower steam engine, a bronze propeller, white Norwegian ash decks, and 14 compartments to hold 3 million gallons of oil.

The war ended before the Palo Alto was completed, so it was sailed from the shipyard in Oakland to be anchored at Pier 33 in San Francisco in January, 1921. Concrete ships were not popular post-war, so the Palo Alto was eventually stripped of her engine and propeller, and sold to the Seacliff Amusement Corporation in 1929. In 1930, the ship was towed to Seacliff Beach by a Red Stack tugboat, where it was beached to be refitted as a pleasure ship, and the 630 ft. fishing pier was built to connect with the ship’s stern.

The Palo Alto’s renovations included a 54 by 154 ft. dance floor, a 54 ft. heated swimming pool, a café, and carnival type concessions. In the summer of 1930, 3,000 people attended the opening of the ship’s Rainbow Ballroom, which featured famous big bands like Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman, and Tommy Dorsey. The ship was also a hotspot for games of chance. There were slot machines and bingo on the deck, and it’s rumored, gambling below it. As legend has it, during the Prohibition the surrounding beach was also a notorious hotspot for deliveries of illegal liquor.

Bow section of cement ship, circa 1940’s.

After two summer seasons the owners went broke. In the following winter of 1932, the Seacliff Amusement Corporation went bankrupt and a storm cracked the ship’s hull in the middle. The ship was stripped of its valuables, and in 1936, was sold to the state for one dollar. Originally, the ship’s estimated cost was $1.5 million.

In 2001, public access onto the S. S. Palo Alto was permanently closed. Battered by the storms of 2016-17, the stern upended, endangering the structure of the pier and leading to its indefinite closure. Despite its inevitable decline, the iconic cement ship still holds historical and sentimental value for locals and has created a sanctuary for sealife and sandbar for surfers. Only time and the elements will tell how long this unique nautical relic will remain above water.

Photos courtesy of John Hibble, Director of the Aptos Chamber of Commerce and Aptos Museum.


About Fleur Williams

31 Responses to History of the Seacliff Beach Cement Ship

Thanks for expanding the history of this remarkable landmark!

I remember fishing off that boat in the mid-late 70s! Sad to see its condition today!

Same here. We lived in Aptos in 66-69, as kids we’d walk to the old cement ship many, many times to fish. That town, the beach, the pier & cement ship was a wonderful place to run around/explore at ages 7-10. Sad to see the town has changed a lot & the cement ship just crumble a way.

I remember walking out on the deck with my Dad back in the late 70s when we stayed at a beach rental during the summer. Brought back a lot of great memories even though it looks so different now!
Thanks for the great historical summary!

I lived in Santa Cruz for abought 12 years and I am only 16 my parents had lived in Santa Cruz for almost 20 years. I remember hearing this story as a young boy and it is sad to see it go the history is so great even tho I didn’t walk out on the ship ever I do remember kids from the jr.gards going and jumping off the pear and swimming around it

I caught my first fish off the end of the ship when I was 6 years old a link cod that was bigger than me
Our family and friends spent many a weekend fishing off the Cement Boat
Sure do miss those days

We spent many a summer at Seacliff and would go onto the boat in the Sixties. My grand father would go crabbing in the 30’s and 40’s. Sorry to see it’s condition now.

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Used to go there a lot with my aunt and her sister, who lived nearby. I have fond memories of the cement ship. Sad to see the state its in

Thanks for finally writing about >History of the Seacliff Beach Cement Ship | Local
Santa Cruz <Liked it!

My dad took me fishing there when I was young (70’s)and lived in Aptos. I caught a starfish once! Great memories and bonfires on that beach. I’ve been told at the rate it’s sinking in the sand. It won’t be visible much longer… sigh

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Sutro Historical District

Adolph Heinrich Joseph Sutro (April 29, 1830 – August 8, 1898) was the 24th mayor of San Francisco from 1894 until 1896. Born in Aachen, Prussia, Sutro was educated as an engineer and arrived in the United States in 1850 at the age of twenty. He made his considerable fortune by de-watering and de-gassing the mine shafts of the Comstock Lode in Nevada.

After returning from the Comstock in 1879 he increased his wealth by large real estate investments in San Francisco such as Land’s End, Mount Sutro, and Mount Davidson. He built a modest yet unique estate in what is now Sutro Heights Park. Sutro opened his estate to the public and was heralded as a populist for various projects that benefitted the general population.

Sutro’s reputation as a provider of diversions and culture for the average person led the Populist Party to draft him to run for mayor. He won on an anti-big business platform but was not considered a successful mayor—his political career lasted a short two years. At the time of his death, in 1898, his fortune was extensive and his legal affairs in disarray. As a result, his heirs fought bitterly over his holdings. For additional information about this fascinating man, follow the links below.

Just north of the Cliff House are the historically protected ruins of the once grand Sutro Baths built by Adolph Sutro. Sutro had been developing the project for years, attempting four separate times to insulate the site from waves using sea walls, the first three of which collapsed into the Pacific Ocean. On March 14, 1896 the Sutro Baths finally opened to a dazzled public at a cost of more than $500,000. Spread over three acres, the artistic detail and engineering ingenuity were impressive.

A classic Greek portal opened to a massive glass enclosure containing one fresh water tank and six salt-water tanks, all at various temperatures. Together the pools held 1,685,000 gallons of seawater and could be filled or emptied in one hour by the high or low tides. There were 20,000 bathing suits and 40,000 towels for rent as well as slides, trapezes, springboards, and a high dive for up to 1,600 bathers.

The building contained three restaurants that could accommodate 1,000 people at a seating and was stocked with treasures that Sutro had collected during his travels. A 3,700-seat amphitheater provided entertainment and up to 25,000 people could visit each day for a mere 10 cents (25 cents for swimming). Sutro’s dream was realized as the San Francisco populace streamed to the baths riding the excursion railroad he built to reach them. The railroad grade still exists as a walking trail along the Land’s End cliffs.ours.

By 1937 Sutro’s grandson realized the baths were no longer commercially successful so he converted the large tank into an ice skating rink. Sutro Baths never regained its popularity and the ice-skating revenue was not enough to maintain the enormous building. George Whitney purchased the Sutro Baths in 1952 from Sutro’s grandson and in 1966, the site was sold to land developers who began demolition so they could build high-rise apartments. A fire quickly finished the demolition work and thus ended the 80-year history of Sutro Baths.

Today you can explore the remains of Sutro Baths and imagine the elegance of life here at the turn of the century. The baths became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 1973 and are still popular for the scenic and recreational values recognized by Adolph Sutro over 100 years ago.

Adolph Sutro first encountered the future site of his Sutro Heights home in March of 1881 while on a visit with his daughter Emma to the home of Samuel Tetlow. Legend has it that Sutro was so entranced with the site that he made a deposit of $1,000 (on a total sale price of $15,000) for the cottage and an adjoining 1.65 acres that very afternoon. Sutro acquired the 21.21 acres adjacent to the cottage as well as 80 acres of shore lands bordering Fort Miley and part of the future Lincoln Park. This land included The Cliff House.

Sutro’s renovation of the cottage retained its relatively modest appearance, belying its ownership by a man of Sutro’s wealth and stature. In contrast to his restraint at renovation of the cottage, Sutro concentrated his efforts on the immediate development of elaborate gardens that eventually would cover the twenty-acre site.

Until the early 1920s the gardens remained in relatively good condition. The gardens’ condition declined after Dr. Emma Sutro Merritt deeded maintenance to the City in 1933, and it accelerated after her death in 1938. In 1976, the City of San Francisco transferred ownership of Sutro Heights to the National Park Service, to be managed as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. National Park Service management efforts since that time have attempted to identify and preserve the historic features remaining on the site.

Sutro Heights today continues to provide open space for strolling or other forms of passive recreation but presents a simpler appearance than in its heyday. The main entrance to Sutro Heights Park off Point Lobos Avenue is marked by statuary lions on each side that are reproductions of the originals. Palm Avenue, the broad promenade, is lined still, in part, by palm trees. Intermittent groupings of trees and shrubs—scant reminders of Sutro’s complex planting arrangements—still survive, as does the well house. There are still views of the ocean and surrounding coast from the semi-circular parapet located at the western end of the site, and at intervals along the oceanfront side of the park.

The History and Significance of the Adolph Sutro Historic District:
excerpts from the National Register of Historic Places
Nomination Form prepared in 2000
James P. Delgado, Denise Bradley, Paul M. Scolari, Stephen A. Haller
To read the full text of this article click here.

Sea Cliff - History

Sea Cliff Beach will be opening on Saturday May 29, 2021. The Beach will be open on weekends only until June 26, 2021 when it will be open on a daily basis.

To ensure public health and compliance with Governor's Orders regarding outdoor gatherings, non-residents are not permitted to visit the beach on weekends. Non-residents are welcome to purchase a weekday/daily membership for Monday - Friday.

Beach & Kayak Rack Rental Application - application must be brought to the beach office applications are not being accepted at Village hall

State Funds are Available to Help Replace Septic Systems

State funding of $2 million will help Nassau County provide up to $10,000 in grants for homeowners and small businesses seeking to replace failing septic systems. New septic systems will help in efforts to reduce nitrogen and other pollutants from entering our waterways.

Applications for the county's SEPTIC program will open Monday May 3, 2021. The grants are for 50% of the cost of a new state-of-the-art nitrogen-reducing septic system, up to $10,000.

Applications can be filled out online at Qualifying residents can also contact [email protected] or call 516-364-5861 for more information and instructions on how to apply.

Sea Cliff Circle

Code Red Notification System

The Village of Sea Cliff has an emergency communications system to be able to quickly deliver messages to targeted areas or the entire village. These messages are sent via phone calls, email and/or texts depending on your preferences. Learn more about our CodeRed high-speed notification solution. You need to sign up to be assured you receive notifications.

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Sea Cliff is taking the spread of the COVID-19 virus seriously. While we encourage you to be prepared, take precautions, and be part of the solution. We are working with Nassau County and New York State officials as well as healthcare professionals to help people stay informed and safe. For more information, go to the Nassau County Website

Basic Information about Village Operations:

  • Access to Village Hall is limited in access from the public. We suggest making an appointment and facial covering is required to enter the building
  • All sanitation collections are continuing as scheduled
  • All meetings of Village Boards are being conducted via video conference, consult the website calendar for instructions on how to participate
  • All member of Village staff are working and can be contacted by email or be calling Village Hall during work hours


To report a violation in New York's public assembly guidelines, email: [email protected]

Crisis Helpline: (516) 227-TALK (8255)

Veterans Service Agency: (516) 572-6565

For TEXT Updates: text COVID19NC to 888777

Survey 2020: Engage with a Vision for the Village

The Long-Term Planning Committee has been hard at work over the last nine months to develop a vision for the future of Sea Cliff. A long-range plan is only as good as the information upon which it is built. Towards that end, we encourage all residents to participate in the Sea Cliff Long Range Survey

Residential Rehabilitation Program

The Village of Sea Cliff Community Development Program will be accepting Residential Rehabilitation Applications on an ongoing basis. Applications and instructions can be downloaded here and are also available in Village Hall

Past Issues of the can be Found Here

Sanitation and Recycling

  • Monday & Thursday for properties north of Glen Avenue
  • Tuesday and Friday for properties south of Glen Avenue
  • Recyclables are picked up curbside throughout the entire Village every Wednesday except during some holiday weeks (see holiday garbage schedule).

PLEASE: In order to avoid injuries, your sanitation workers cannot lift cans that are over 32-gallons in size or 75 pounds in weight. Oversize garbage cans are not permitted and Notices of Violation will be issued for their use.

We utilize facilities that accommodate single-stream recycling which means all materials to be recycled can be put in the same container. Sanitation crews will pick up paper, cardboard, glass, plastic & cans from containers placed at curbside. Paper does not have to be bundled however, it should be placed in a manner that does not allow it to blow around. Cardboard boxes do not need to be crushed boxes may be placed inside other boxes. Rinse out glass, plastic and tin cans prior to placing these items in the container to prevent rodent infestation and to avoid contaminating the recycling load. All recycling must be free of regular garbage or it will not be taken. For more information visit the Public Works section of the website.

Preserving Sea Cliff’s history, one path at a time

Even on an overcast December afternoon, the view from Leslie Guerci&rsquos home is spectacular. Through a large second-story window, she can see boats moving through Hempstead Harbor, which, surrounded by bluffs, is one of the most picturesque places on Long Island.

What makes the village truly lovely, though, doesn&rsquot require watercraft or a picture window to see, according to Guerci. It is discovered by anyone willing to take a walk: the town&rsquos architecture and history, which she seeks to preserve as president of the Sea Cliff Landmarks Association and chairwoman of the village&rsquos Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Guerci took over those volunteer positions in 2011, after the death of her predecessor, Eve Haim. Now in her mid-60s, Guerci has worked hard to ensure that Sea Cliff&rsquos heritage remains intact through lectures, tours and other special events. And her most notable contribution was even more tangible.

In August, she published a map of Sea Cliff&rsquos pathways and landmarks, the first of its kind in the village, with funding from the Landmarks Association. In it, she not only identified these places, but also wrote about their significance in the town&rsquos history. This labor of love took two years of careful research, and is full of insight into Sea Cliff&rsquos rich and colorful past. For her dedication, the Herald Gazette is proud to name Guerci its 2019 Person of the Year.

The things that were

Guerci spent most of her life in rural upstate New York and Baltimore, but in 1999, she, her husband, Alan, and their son, John, moved to Sea Cliff. Alan said they were drawn to the village by his wife&rsquos love of Victorian architecture, which is found up and down its streets. Leslie began working as a design consultant, helping contractors create and renovate the interiors of local homes and businesses.

Her passion for classic architecture prompted her to get involved in local volunteer preservation organizations, which didn&rsquot surprise her family. &ldquoLeslie is a compulsive community volunteer,&rdquo Alan said. &ldquoWherever we&rsquove lived, she&rsquos gotten involved in the community.&rdquo

Much of her volunteer work has focused on maintaining Sea Cliff&rsquos status as the historical landmark capital of Nassau County. It has more state-designated landmarks than any other village in the county. Guerci has worked tirelessly to make state officials understand why so many places in Sea Cliff have historic or artistic value.

&ldquoLeslie Guerci epitomizes the beauty of Sea Cliff with her long-term approach to keeping our village landmark status intact for future generations,&rdquo Mayor Edward Lieberman said. &ldquoThis is an endearing individual whose first love is Sea Cliff.&rdquo

&ldquoLeslie is a friendly, smart, outgoing woman who never asks anybody to do anything she wouldn&rsquot do herself,&rdquo Village Administrator Bruce Kennedy added. &ldquoShe has made landmarks preservation a fun, valuable thing that has gotten a lot of buy-in from the community.&rdquo

The preservation of landmarks is important to many residents because of Sea Cliff&rsquos unique history. The village appears distinctly old compared with other places on Long Island. Not long after the Civil War, the Metropolitan Campground Association of the Methodist Church bought much of Sea Cliff and set up small tent settlements throughout the village. Roads were built to accommodate the camps, and they predated cars, which is why many of the surviving streets are so narrow. Most of them don&rsquot have sidewalks, in stark contrast with much of the rest of Long Island.

&ldquoIt&rsquos an interesting story of how the village developed and grew from its beginnings,&rdquo said Sara Reres, former director of the Village Museum. &ldquoI think as far as Long Island is concerned, it&rsquos a very interesting history and unique to the Island.&rdquo

The things that are

One of Guerci&rsquos more consistent efforts as the head of the Landmarks Association and the Landmarks Commission has been restoring the town&rsquos oldest walkways. She has partnered with the Sea Cliff Department of Public Works on restoration as well as maintenance of the walkways&rsquo infrastructure. Some of them date back to the 1870s, and residents rarely use them today.

&ldquoThe previous push in Landmarks for a number of years had been to give people grants to work on their houses,&rdquo Guerci explained, &ldquoand I just didn&rsquot think that was a good use of nonprofit money, because it only really benefited those people. I wanted to do something that benefited the village at large.&rdquo

However, as more and more walkways were restored, she realized that she couldn&rsquot find many of them on village maps. Many weren&rsquot marked at all, and even Google Maps wasn&rsquot entirely correct. In 2017, she sought to change all that.

Guerci began walking the pathways every day, noting every staircase, boardwalk, trail and street she saw, while also taking in Sea Cliff&rsquos natural beauty. Realizing how much history there was in these places, she decided that she didn&rsquot want her map to be simply a collection of lines and names on paper. Instead, it became something of a Sea Cliff encyclopedia, with more than 40 identified locations, most of them accompanied by detailed explanations of their histories.

Guerci pored over copies of digitized old newspapers, some dating back to the 1870s. She scoured issue after issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle the Sea Cliff News &mdash a weekly newspaper that was published from 1918 to 1951 &mdash and old Sea Cliff postcards, as well as old maps and other resources in the Village Museum. She compiled details of nearly everything she had mapped out on her own.

Reres, who retired from the museum in April, said she was impressed by Guerci&rsquos extensive knowledge of Sea Cliff&rsquos history, as well as her dedication to preserving it.

After gathering all the information, Guerci worked with a graphic designer to create a colorful, easy-to-read map. She sent them to every household in Sea Cliff at no charge, and has sold copies to visitors through several retailers in the village.

The things yet to come

Even though this two-year labor of love is complete, Guerci isn&rsquot even close to finishing her work of preserving Sea Cliff&rsquos history. She continues to host walking tours and lectures for hundreds of people every year, and wants to create a similar map of all of the village&rsquos landmarks.

As active as she is, she shows no signs of slowing down, which is greatly appreciated by her fellow local historians. &ldquo[Guerci&rsquos leadership is] crucial, because she&rsquos a torchbearer,&rdquo said William Bryant, vice chair of the Landmarks Commission. &ldquoShe keeps people showing up she gets people to volunteer. She got me to volunteer &mdash and continues to get me to volunteer &mdash in ways that I&rsquom not always inclined to do naturally, but there&rsquos something about her persistence and her ability to bring people into the fold that makes a big difference.&rdquo

Alan Guerci said that he and his wife think Sea Cliff is a wonderful community. &ldquoThere are people from all different backgrounds and professions, and [Leslie&rsquos] just in love with the town and in love with the people,&rdquo he said. &ldquoIt&rsquos in her nature to try to establish communities.&rdquo

Despite how highly so many of her peers speak of her impact on preserving Sea Cliff&rsquos history, Guerci is reluctant to take much credit. &ldquoIt&rsquos not a solitary endeavor,&rdquo she said. &ldquoIt takes a lot of volunteer effort to do any of these things for Landmarks . . . I didn&rsquot want it to be just about me.&rdquo

What You’ll Pay

In October 2019, 40 single-family houses were listed for sale, at an average of $1.06 million, according to Sherlock Homes Realty, a local brokerage. While that list price topped the average for Nassau County, according to the Douglas Elliman agency, it was on par with that of the affluent North Shore.

A cottage built in 1900, with two bedrooms and one bathroom, was the least expensive listing at $429,000, while Westways, a 1913 six-bedroom estate with a saltwater pool, was the priciest, at $3.15 million.

The market seems robust. In the past 12 months, 51 single-family houses sold at an average price of $820,000, according to information from the Sherlock Homes brokerage. In comparison, during the preceding 12 months, there were 46 sales at an average of $742,000. But inventory levels are historically high, which brokers say suggests that the slowdown hitting New York City could soon make its way east.

“We’re usually about six months behind,” said Terry Sciubba, the owner of Sherlock Homes. “But we see this happen from time to time.”

Rentals — often in former hotels, like the eight-unit 52 Prospect Avenue — aren’t easy to come by. But one-bedrooms go for about $2,000 a month.

This San Francisco hike offers nature, history — and unobstructed views of the Golden Gate Bridge

I savor every second I’m home in the Bay Area. I disconnect from my hectic life in the District and trade it for uninterrupted time with family and friends, enormous $1 avocados at the farmers market, and as many hikes and beach trips as possible. I was due for a visit to Lands End, the rugged oceanside park within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the 82,027-acre expanse that includes many of the Bay Area’s most jaw-dropping landmarks and vistas. Exercise, trees and ocean views sounded like the perfect antidote to the East Coast winter. I was in dire need of some vitamin sea.

Hugging San Francisco’s northwest shore, Lands End offers an unobstructed view of the iconic structure that draws so many visitors from around the world — the Golden Gate Bridge. And seeing it here doesn’t require elbowing your way through the crowds at Baker Beach or Fort Point. The site’s trails weave through the forests and beaches that abut the steep cliffs and sharp rocks that form a natural “gate” for the ships that sail into San Francisco Bay. Hiking here is a way to feel a little wild again, even in the quintessential 21st-century city.

After a late and leisurely breakfast at home, my mom, my younger brother, Erhan, and I set off toward San Francisco on Interstate 280. Erhan deejayed as we wound through the South Bay’s green foothills and cypress forests until Ocean Beach unfurled before us, a shimmering canvas of blue water and pale sand dotted with joggers. Lands End is usually less crowded than some of the other local spots, but on this sunny but brisk Saturday, the main parking lot was full. Erhan, a regular here, maneuvered us to another one around the corner past the Lands End Lookout, the beginning of the park that includes restrooms, a cafe, visitor center and bookstore.

We decided to follow the Coastal Trail, an easy 1.7-mile route that follows the railbed of the railroad that operated here in the 1880s and takes visitors through tunnels of trees and past scenic outlooks. It’s not a strenuous hike, but we had dressed in running attire to contend with the rocky and uneven parts of the path (the area has experienced landslides). We paused at Point Lobos, named for the sea lions, or lobos marinos, that sometimes sun themselves on the rocks below — though, sadly, not today.

From the trailhead, we looked down at children and parents peering into a large concrete pool on the shore. It’s the ruins of the Sutro Baths, a public swimming pool and entertainment complex that was the crown jewel of this neighborhood when it opened in 1894. Named for its developer, Adolph Sutro, a gold-rush-era millionaire who later became mayor of San Francisco, the baths were once a playground for city dwellers. Sutro died in 1898, and while his family continued to manage the complex until it was sold in 1952, the Great Depression and tighter health restrictions had caused the baths’ popularity to dip. The complex closed permanently in 1965 and was destroyed by a fire the next year. Now all that remains are the steel beams and concrete blocks.

It’s not hard to learn something at Lands End, as signage along the route provides interesting facts about the area’s history and ecology. The baths’ colorful history is a case in point.

We cut back across the cliff top and proceeded north to the trail. As we wound into the cliffs and further away from the parking lot below, the loud waves drowned out the sound of cars and the only reminders of the world outside were the smartphones in other hikers’ hands.

The main path is wide and well trod because several people have died falling from the cliffs over the years, numerous signs urge hikers to stay on marked trails. Glimpses of the bridge were visible as we walked under a dark green canopy of cypress and eucalyptus trees. We paused at the Eastern Coastal Trail Overlook, where other hikers and dogs were resting, to take in our first expansive view of the bridge — a reward after so many quick glimpses. A smaller trail beckoned about 200 steps below us was Mile Rock Beach, a little cove strewn with logs and stacked boulders with a beachfront view of the bridge from below.

From the primary trail, we headed to the site that populates the Instagram feeds of so many Bay Area teens — the stone labyrinth created by San Francisco artist Eduardo Aguilera. The maze crowns a large cliffside clearing with a panoramic view of the bridge. Getting there is more strenuous than the rest of the trail and requires walking on narrow paths and descending numerous steps. The labyrinth, which has been repeatedly vandalized and was destroyed twice over the years, was rebuilt with the help of volunteers. The design looks as if it’s carved into the earth, and its setting at cliff’s edge is a beautiful but uneasy reminder of how jagged and high these bluffs are.

After a workout climbing the stairs, we returned to the forested portion of the trail and took more pictures through the trees. The last leg of the trail starts in a eucalyptus grove and becomes grassy and filled with wildflowers signage names the native plants that surround us — coyote brush, sticky monkey flower, seaside daisy and toyon. Small yellow flowers look like drops of paint spilled on a green canvas composed of wild, linear strokes. At Eagle’s Point, the lookout closest to the bridge, we join some people eating sandwiches from Ike’s — a local mainstay — on a long bench. This was the closest we got to the urban cityscape (the trail runs into the ritzy Sea Cliff neighborhood), but it still felt far away. Taking in the view, we decided not to continue on to China Beach and instead returned the way we came.

Watch the video: NZ Notorious Lunatic Asylum. Seacliff, A walk through NZ History. (December 2021).