Musée Mécanique, San Francisco

Musée Mécanique is a collection of penny arcade games located in a museum on Pier 45 at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.

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‘Laughing Sal’ – one of San Francisco’s most nostalgic landmarks at Playland from from 1940 – 1972.

Ed Zelinksy begun collecting at age 11. Originally his collection was exhibited at Playland, an amusement park located next to Ocean Beach.

In 1972 Playland closed and the Musée Mécanique collection moved into the basement of the Cliff House (click here to read my blog post on the Cliff House).

In 2002 Musée Mécanique was moved to Fisherman’s Wharf. Today it is owned and managed by Ed’s son Dan Zelinsky.

There are over 200 coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and arcade games. It is free to enter the museum, but visitors pay to play the games. The games are priced from one cent to a dollar. There are change machines available.

Musée Mécanique is located at in Shed A, Pier 45, which is at the foot of Taylor Street.

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Cliff House, San Francisco

The Cliff House is a San Francisco restaurant on a headland above the cliffs just north of Ocean Beach.

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The Cliff House’s origins go back to 1858 when the house was built by Samuel Brannan, who founded San Francisco’s first newspaper the California Star. In 1863 the second Cliff House, a restaurant was built. In 1883, the building was brought by Adolph Sutro, who later opened the Sutro Baths.

In 1887 the building was partially damaged by a dynamite explosion when a ship run aground. Although the building was repaired it was destroyed by a fire on Christmas night 1894.

Sutro built a new seven-story Victorian Chateau in 1896, the same year he began work on the Sutro Baths. Sutro’s Cliff House survived the 1906 earthquake but was burnt to the ground a year later. Following the fire Sutro’s daughter commissioned architectural and engineering firm Reid & Reid to rebuilt in neo-classical style.

In 1937, George and Leo Whitney purchased the Cliff House and redeveloped in as a roadhouse to compliment an amusement park that the Whitleys had managed since 1926. On the terrace is a room size camera obscura. This was built in 1947 and today is the last remaining structure of the amusement park. 

The building was acquired by the National Park Service in 1977. In 2003 the building was renovated and restored to its 1909 appearance.

Today there is a casual walk-in bistro, an elegant restaurant, a Sunday champagne buffet brunch room, cafe, two bars, and a gift shop.

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