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Sutro Baths

4.5/531 Reviews
Historical SiteBeach

Business Hours

open all day


1004 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA
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About Sutro Baths

The ruins of Sutro Baths are situated in a cove below the Cliff House on San Francisco's northwest coast. On March 14, 1896, the Sutro Baths were opened to the public as the world's biggest indoor swimming pool establishment. The baths were constructed on the sleepy western side of San Francisco by rich entrepreneur and former mayor of San Francisco (1894–1896), Adolph Sutro. The vast glass, iron, wood, and reinforced concrete structure was largely hidden, and filled a small beach inlet underneath the Cliff House, also owned by Adolph Sutro at the time. Both the Cliff House and the former baths location are now a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and operated by the United States National Park Service. A tourist 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 got chance to view 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 m?) of water in about an hour. During low tides, a powerful turbine water pump, construst 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. At the Sutro Baths, Sutro also maintained an large collection of stuffed and mounted animals, historic artifacts, and artwork, much of which he acquired from the Woodward's Gardens estate sale in 1894. The baths were once serviced by a rail line, the Ferries and Cliff House Railroad, which ran along the cliffs of Lands End overlooking the Golden Gate. The route ran from the baths to a terminal at California Street and Central Avenue (now Presidio Avenue). The baths struggled for years, mostly due to the very high operating and maintenance costs. Shortly after closing, a fire in 1966 destroyed the building while it was in the process of being demolished. All that remains of the site are concrete walls, blocked off stairs and passageways, and a tunnel with a deep crevice in the middle. The Sutro Bath ruins are open to the public, but a warning sign advises strict caution, stating "People have been swept from the rocks and drowned."
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