The Haunted Ruins of San Francisco’s Water Wonderland
In 1896, millionaire Adolph Sutro built a public water paradise, with natural history exhibits and art galleries attached. Today, all that’s left of it are ghostly ruins.
The photos are both nostalgic and eerie. Steep staircases lead to nowhere. Brick walls suddenly end. A pinprick of light shines through at the end of dark, rocky tunnels. The surf of the Pacific Ocean crashes into the rocky ruins dotted with a red sign of caution, “Cliff and surf area extremely dangerous.” Just in case that warning wasn’t dire enough, it gets specific: “People have been swept from the rocks and drowned.”
This striking scene nestled in the Golden Gate Recreational Area is all that is left of what was once the Sutro Baths, a grand complex of public baths, recreational areas, and a mini natural history museum that San Francisco millionaire Adolph Sutro built in the late 1800s.
At the height of its popularity, the bath area alone could accommodate over 10,000 guests; now the area has been allowed to go wild, to return to nature with mere traces of its history left behind for those who dare to explore.