Sunday, May 05, 2013



Sutro Baths from the hill. Wanted to show the size of the complex - that's the Cliff House in the background. Interesting history here...

On March 14, 1896, the Sutro Baths were opened to the public as the world's largest indoor swimming pool establishment. The baths were built on the sleepy western side of San Francisco by wealthy entrepreneur and former mayor of San Francisco (1894–1896), Adolph Sutro. The vast glass, iron, wood, and reinforced concrete structure was mostly hidden, and filled a small beach inlet below the Cliff House, also owned by Adolph Sutro at the time. Both the Cliff House and the former baths site are now a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and operated by the United States National Park Service.

A visitor to the baths not only had a choice of seven different swimming pools—one fresh water and six salt water baths ranging in temperatures—but could also visit a museum displaying Sutro's large and varied personal collection of artifacts from his travels, a concert hall, seating for 8,000, and, at one time, an ice skating rink. During high tides, water would flow directly into the pools from the nearby ocean, recycling the two million US gallons (7,600 m³) of water in about an hour. During low tides, a powerful turbine water pump, built inside a cave at sea level, could be switched on from a control room and could fill the tanks at a rate of 6,000 US gallons a minute (380 L/s), recycling all the water in five hours.

Never a big money-maker, the Baths closed in 1966, and a fire destroyed the structure. They left the ruins pretty much where they were it seems; weather and time rusting the rebar and pipes, slowly wearing down the concrete foundation.

While the fog lent an eerie and somehow peaceful light to the day, I will hike this again in the sun. The trail through Land's End has spectacular scenery and views of the GG Bridge - a must do, and sorry I took so long to get there. But now that I know, I will be back...