The "original" Victorian-style Cliff House, built by Adolph Sutro and opened in January 1896 (and destroyed by fire in 1907) was actually the third structure built on the site. The second of these was partially destroyed by an explosion of dyanamite on a ship drifting below. In 1909 the second "new" Cliff House was opened, having been built by Adolph Sutro's daughter. Various remodels in the 1940s and 1950s reflected the styles of those decades, and the present-day Cliff House was reconstructed in 2003 to resemble the 1909 neo-classical version.
Originally the estate of Adolph Sutro, the ledge and parapet seen in the postcards marked the location of the Sutro home. The grounds and gardens were open to the public, and many photographs of the Ocean Beach area were taken from the vantage point of the estate. It was entirely donated to the city in 1938, and a few of the statues and features seen in the postcards exist in the park today.