Sutro Baths, The Cliff House, San Francisco 1930s
In 1881 Adolph Sutro, a self-made millionaire who later became mayor of San Francisco, bought the Cliff House restaurant from its original owners. He set about making improvements that would re-establish it as a family-friendly restaurant but in 1894, the wooden building was destroyed by fire.
While beginning to rebuild Cliff House as a grand castle-like structure, Sutro also built the Sutro Baths.
He constructed an ocean pool aquarium among the rocks north of the Cliff House and a massive public bath house that covered three acres. The Baths could accommodate 10,000 people at one time and offered 20,000 bathing suits and 40,000 towels for rent.
At high tide, the Pacific Ocean could fill seven separate swimming pools with 1.7 million gallons of water.
By the late 1890s, several railroads provide transportation to the area and grateful San Franciscans could enjoy an inexpensive day out at the Baths and at the Cliff House, which had areas for dining, dancing and other entertainment.
Sutro died in 1898 and over time, the Baths lost their popularity due to the Great Depression, reduction in public transportation and stricter public health codes. An ice-skating rink failed and in 1966, fire destroyed what was left of the Baths and they were allowed to go to ruin.
This wonderful poster hung in the Cliff House restaurant, which was first established as a resort in 1863. This magnificent property situated on cliffs overlooking Seal Rocks was the scene of many graduations, engagements and wedding celebrations and sadly closed in 2021, an economic victim of the Covid – 19 pandemic.
Courtesy Private Collection.