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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tourism For Locals: Camera Obscura Provides a 360 Degree View of the Coast

Posted By on Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 8:43 AM

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San Franciscans are surrounded by 360 degrees of beautiful views. Yet, some of us still take the beauty of the City for granted at times, forgetting to look up from our phones and remind ourselves that we, us lucky few, get to call this place home. If this has ever happened to you, then maybe it's time to have a paradigm shift.

Sea Cliff's Camera Obscura, an edifice contraption inspired on a 15th-century design by Leonardo da Vinci, produces 360 degrees of  images of the Seal Rock Area, all while using only mirrors and natural light. 

Built in 1946 as an attraction connected with The Cliff House Restaurant, it works with very simple mechanics and reflections of light.  A live image is projected on to a white horizontal viewing table via a reflected image from a viewpoint at the top of the building. A metal hood in the cupola at the top of the building slowly rotates, making a full gyration in about six minutes, allowing for a 360 degree view around the building. 

click image A 1954 file photo from a LIFE Magazine feature shows spectators viewing the surround Seal Cliff area through the Camera Obscura. - LIFE MAGAZINE ARCHIVES
  • LIFE Magazine Archives
  • A 1954 file photo from a LIFE Magazine feature shows spectators viewing the surround Seal Cliff area through the Camera Obscura.

While the exterior of the building was extensively modified in 1957 to appear as a giant camera, the internal workings of the camera obscura have remained unchanged since its erection in 1946.  In 2001, it was added to National Register of Historic Places  for its significance in engineering. 

So when you want to find a different perspective of the City and your places within its limits, you don't have to leave the city premises, just a new point of view showing our surrounding ambiance that doesn't choke, but embraces. 

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About The Author

Juan De Anda

Juan De Anda

Juan De Anda is a cultural correspondent with a concentration in tourism, literature, and lifestyle and has been writing for SF Weekly since 2013. As an avid traveler, he enjoys discovering destinations abroad as well as the never-ending hidden gems of San Francisco. #DondeAndaJuanDeAnda?


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