We learned about a place that use to exist called Sutro Baths, The Sutro Baths were a large, privately owned public saltwater swimming pool complex in the Lands End area of the Outer Richmond District in western San Francisco, California. I took photo's of the remains of what use to be there.
Then when I returned home I did some research on this amazing place and this is what I found out.
The Ambitious & Magnificent Sutro Baths
Adolph Sutro, the self-made millionaire who designed Sutro Heights and later the second Cliff House, developed the amazing Sutro Baths in 1894. With his special interest in natural history and marine studies, he constructed an ocean pool aquarium among the rocks north of the Cliff House. Sutro then expanded his ocean front complex by constructing a massive public bathhouse that covered three acres and boasted impressive engineering and artistic details.
Sutro's dream for the Baths was to provide a healthy, recreational and inexpensive swimming facility for thousands of San Franciscans. A classic Greek portal opened to a massive glass enclosure containing seven swimming pools at various temperatures. There were slides, trapezes, springboards and a high dive. The power of the Pacific Ocean during high tide could fill the 1.7 million gallons of water required for all the pools in just one hour. The Baths could accommodate 10,000 people at one time and offered 20,000 bathing suits and 40,000 towels for rent.
Typical of Sutro's progressive spirit, he designed the Baths to provide its visitors with educational as well as recreational opportunities. The front entrance contained natural history exhibits, galleries of sculptures, paintings, tapestries and artifacts from Mexico, China, Asia, and the Middle East, including the popular Egyptian mummies. In addition to swimming, Sutro Baths offered visitors many other attractions including band concerts, talent shows, and restaurants. With several railroads providing transportation to the area by the late 1890s, a visit to Sutro Baths crowned an all-day family excursion to the shore, including stops at Sutro Heights, the Cliff House and Ocean Beach.
The End of an Era
For all their glamour and excitement, the Baths were not commercially successful over the long-term. Adolph Sutro died in 1898 and for many years, his family continued to manage his properties. Overtime, the Baths became less popular, due to the Great Depression, reduction in available public transportation and new public health codes. In attempts to make the facility profitable, the owners converted the baths into an ice-skating rink but Sutro Baths never regained its popularity and the ice-skating revenue was not enough to maintain the enormous building. In 1964, developers with plans to replace the Baths with high-rise apartments bought the site and began demolition of the once great structure. In 1966, a fire destroyed what was left of the Baths; the city did not pursue the high-rise apartment plans. The concrete ruins just north of the Cliff House are the remains of the grand Sutro Baths and have been part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area since 1973.
This is what they use to look like before they were destroyed by fire.
Wasn't this place amazing??? Can you imagine swimming here back then and socializing. I think it would've been great fun. I would love to be able to travel back in time and just sit back and watch these people as they jump from the high board into the water or are lounging around. Close your eyes and picture yourself in a bathing suit from that era and talking with your friends about the current events. Wouldn't it be wonderful?