The Sutro Baths was a large, privately owned public saltwater swimming pool complex in the Lands End area of the Outer Richmond District in western San Francisco, California.
Built in 1896, it is located near the Cliff House, Seal Rocks, and Sutro Heights Park. The facility burned down in June 1966 and is now in ruins. The site is within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the Sutro Historic District.
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 western side of San Francisco by wealthy entrepreneur and former mayor of San Francisco (1894–1896) Adolph Sutro.
The structure was situated in 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, operated by the United States National Park Service. 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 cause of the fire was determined to be arson. Shortly afterwards, the developers left San Francisco and claimed insurance money.
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).
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.
Fun Fact: One of the scenes of Harold & Maude was shot here!
Personal Experience: Please excuse the quality of the photos. We came on an extremely foggy evening, when the sun was almost down, making it difficult to grab decent shots. It was cold and we still had one more spot to hit up so I unfortunately feel like this trip was rushed.
This place is AMAZING though! Definitely one of my top favorite abandoned places to explore so far.
This spot was actually way more impressive than I realized. There is a lot to explore so give yourself at least an hour to walk around:
The cave is such a cool addition to the adventure. There was another blocked off cave that didn’t seem safe to explore due to the high tide. Darn!
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