Sutro Baths Is Opened

On March 14, 1896, San Francisco celebrated the official opening of the Sutro Baths, an extravagant public bathhouse envisioned and developed by the one-time mayor of San Francisco, Adolph Sutro.

An early immigrant to the city, the Prussian-born Sutro was a mining engineer and real estate investor who, it was said, once owned an estimated one-twelfth of the acreage of San Francisco. Sutro made his initial fortune by creating what was known as the Sutro Tunnel, a structure built to facilitate the silver mining of the Comstock Lode in Nevada.

Inside the enormous glass structure that encased the Sutro Baths were seven pools, viewing galleries, restaurants, and exhibition spaces. The pools were filled with heated sea-water piped in from the Pacific.

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 sleepy western side of San Francisco by wealthy entrepreneur and former mayor of San Francisco (1894-1896), Adolph Sutro. The vast glass, iron, wood, and reinforced concrete structure was mostly hidden, and filled a small beach inlet below the Cliff House which was 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 and operated by the United States National Park Service. The site was filmed in 1903 by American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, offering an extraordinary view of the Cliff House from the beach below, available from the Library of Congress online.