The Guide toSan Francisco's Historic Sutro Baths
The Sutro Baths are one of San Francisco's most impressive sights. Find out how and when to visit, and what else is in the neighborhood.
For decades, the Sutro Baths were an iconic part of San Francisco and defined the grand vision that prominent San Franciscans had for their burgeoning city. If you're planning a visit to San Francisco's Richmond District, it's worth visiting the ruins of the Sutro Baths, both for their breathtaking views and rich history. Here's how to make the most out of your trip there.
History of Sutro Baths
The Sutro Baths were the passion project of Adolph Sutro, an entrepreneur who was also a former mayor of San Francisco. Set in the western part of the city on a cliff facing the ocean, the views afforded by the Sutro Baths were (and still are) impressive.
The baths themselves were built inside a large and impressive structure and consisted of six saltwater pools and one freshwater pool. The incoming high tide filled the saltwater pools, and an underground turbine pump was able to refresh the water every five hours during low tide.
Completed in 1890, the Sutro Baths were an impressive feat of engineering in and of themselves and were a popular destination for citizens of San Francisco and visitors alike. However, by the start of World War I, the popularity of the baths had diminished significantly and attempts to revitalize their popularity — which included converting the baths into an ice skating rink — ultimately failed.
The baths were slated for destruction, to be replaced by high-rise condos in 1964. Before that could happen, the remnants of the Sutro Baths were destroyed by fire, and the condo plans were abandoned. Today, the ruins are a testament to the vision of one San Franciscan and how he saw the city.