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Walking the ruins of Sutro's famous San Francisco baths.

Walking the ruins of Sutro's famous San Francisco baths

When San Francisco's wealthy mayor Adolph Sutro opened his sumptuous bathhouse in 1896, he billed it as the world's largest. And indeed it was impressive: housed in a 3-acre structure south of Point Lobos, it included one fresh-water and six salt-water pools surrounded by galleries and a palm-lined promenade.

Today, you can wander through the remains of the swim palace, closed in 1937, then consumed by a fire of mysterious origin in 1966. Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the site also features free 1-hour ranger-guided walks.

A stroll will reveal the cracked ruins of the pools, the largest measuring 150 by 275 feet. Note the old gangways connecting them so swimmers who paid the 1896 entry (25 cents, suit and towel included) could sample pools of varying depth, size, and temperature. At the north end of the complex, you can walk into a tunnel carved during the baths' construction and used to haul dirt away from the site.

From late August into early November, the weather here can be at its best--warm and relatively wind-free. Free guided walks (reservations required) are offered twice each month, starting at 1 from Louis' Restaurant near the Cliff House (parking is on Point Lobos Avenue across the street); to reserve, call (415) 556-8642. The gates to the baths are open from dawn to dusk.

Photo: Like ancient ruins (right), the skeletal remains of Sutro Baths line the beach just north of San Francisco's Cliff House (in background). Above, ranger begins guided tour with pictures of the original complex
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Adolph Sutro
Publication:Sunset
Date:Oct 1, 1986
Words:266
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