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Sutro finally getting due at City Hall

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Adolph Sutro served just less than two years as mayor of San Francisco. The effort to get him back into City Hall required nearly three times that.

In May 2008, Leonid Nakhodkin — a Ukrainian-born former Soviet political prisoner with a predilection for cowboy hats and answering the phone by saying “Everything is perfect!” — hatched a plan to install a bust of Sutro in City Hall.
Sutro may be best-known outside of San Francisco for his grand plan to bore into the Comstock Lode, a large silver ore deposit in Nevada.

The Sutro Tunnel made its eponymous designer a millionaire, setting the engineer on course to become one of San Francisco’s greatest land-?owners and philanthropists.

Sutro’s 1894 to 1896 mayoral term was brief. He largely made his mark on San Francisco with other endeavors.
And despite his name living on via any number of city landmarks, Sutro remains surprisingly little-known for a man of such stature.

At one point, Sutro owned around one-twelfth of The City. Before his death in 1898 at age 68, he had collected some quarter-million books, virtually all of which were given to the public.

He also bought and gave away huge tracts of land. The UC San Francisco Medical Center’s Parnassus campus is built on a 27-acre holding he donated to The City, which includes the Sutro Forest.

Sutro Baths, the Cliff House and much of the surrounding parkland were also formerly his personal holdings. He also designed and constructed The City’s first all-electric trolley system so poor folks could afford the trip out to his baths.
And for all these accomplishments, his bust will finally grace City Hall.

The Sutro bust was crafted by sculptor Jonah Hendrickson, who also created the Harvey Milk bust. Nakhodkin said the price tag was a privately raised $35,000. The Sutro bust will occupy a first-floor spot near the Van Ness entrance previously held by a Willie Brown bust that has since moved upstairs.

joe.eskenazi@sfweekly.com