seal
Seal Rock Inn
waves

Seal Rock Inn
seen from the west
545 Point Lobos Avenue  •  San Francisco, CA 94121  •  Phone: 415-752-8000  •  Toll-free: 1-888-732-5762

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Home > Places to See > Sutro Bath Ruins

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Sutro Baths 1896
Sutro Baths 1896

 Sutro Bath Ruins

Built by Adolph Sutro, the Sutro Baths opened to the public as “the world’s largest indoor swimming pool establishment” in 1896. The huge glass, iron, wood and reinforced concrete structure occupied over three acres and filled a small beach inlet below the Cliff House, which was also owned by Adolph Sutro.

The Baths could accommodate 10,000 people at one time and visitors had a choice of seven different swimming pools: one fresh water and six salt water baths ranging in temperatures. During high tides, water would flow directly into the pools from the nearby ocean, recycling the 2 million gallons 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 gallons a minute, recycling all the water in five hours.

Sutro Bath ruins today
Sutro Bath ruins

Ultimately, the Baths were not commercially successful. Sutro’s grandson converted part of the structure into an ice-skating rink in 1937 and new owner George Whitney expanded it in the early 1950s. The ice-skating revenue was not enough to maintain the enormous building, howver, and in 1964 developers bought the site with plans to build high-rise apartments. During demolition work in 1966, a fire completely destroyed the building.

All that remains of the site today is a labyrinth of cement skeletal remains, blocked off stairs and passageways and a dark tunnel with a deep crevice in the middle. The Sutro Bath ruins are open to the public, but a warning sign advises strict caution due to large waves.

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. The Seal Rocks are just offshore.

  (photo © Chee-onn Leong)

Baker Beach, San Francisco