San Francisco History: Research for Peer Through Time

While writing Peer Through Time, I made multiple trips to San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, Cliff House, and Sutro Baths ruins. I imagined how it might look in the future, and I researched its past.

Most of these are stock images found on Google Images; the Pier 14 photo and the two ‘May 2013’ photos are my own.

In 2079, San Francisco’s Cliff House has been restored to resemble the Victorian Chateau built by Adolph Sutro in the late 19th century.

Cliff House 2079

Cliff House, 1899 (and 2079)


Cliff House and Sutro Baths 1936

Cliff House and Sutro Baths, 1930s


In 1937, Carmela and friends swim at the nearby Sutro Baths complex before hiking along the cliffs to the north.

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Cliff House, May 2013

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Sutro Baths ruins, May 2013

In 1937, Carmela and friends go to Playland at the Beach. This amusement park, just down the hill from the Cliff House, closed in 1972. Today it’s (what else?) condos.

Playland at the Beach 1942

Playland at the Beach, San Franciso, 1942


Laffing Sal greeted visitors to the Fun House

Afterward, they eat at nearby Topsy’s Roost, in dining areas designed to resemble chicken coops.



In 1937, Carmela goes to U.C. Berkeley’s Radiation Laboratory to find the ancestor of a suspected killer. Today the lab is known as the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory—several buildings in the Berkeley hills, overlooking the main campus.

Radiation Lab UC Berkeley - original

Radiation Lab, U.C. Berkeley, 1930s


Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, today

Other research


Pier 14, the scene of a murder in Peer Through Time, in the year 2079.


Some pleasure reading which also served as research for Peer Through Time


  1. Thanks for sharing these pictures. Some ate similar to what my imagination conjured while reading, others, such as the Sutro Baths ruins, help the visualization. I anxiously await the next book!

  2. *are. Oy vay!

  3. San Francisco has the most appealing history! You must have enjoyed the research, but I know it had to be exhausting at times, too. Thanks for sharing the pictures and your comments!

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