Site of the Sutro Baths prior to construction, Flag Rock on the left
Source: Marilyn Blaisdell Collection
Image courtesy of Western Neighborhoods Project
"Golden Gate and the Sutro Baths in Construction"
(believed to be an illustration from an 1891 souvenir photo guide)
The San Francisco Examiner - Sep 18 1892
Change of Plans
John Martini notes an interesting glitch
in the construction...
I was reviewing the construction
photos and noticed something curious; the below views
indicate that part of the bathhouse building was
actually demolished during construction.
The first photo shows construction sometime in
January-February 1893. (The rising columns and trusses
help date these images.) Notice the circled area
in the vicinity of the future Grand Staircase.
Sutro Baths construction c1893 (BANC
The next photo was taken around June 1894. This
time, most of the previously-completed work is
This makes me speculate that Sutro changed his
mind and directed the architects to tear down new
construction while work was still in progress,
much like Hearst did to Julia Morgan at San Simeon. It's
a minor point, but still interesting. -John Martini 2008
And from John Hall...
"Based on my study of the SF Library plans the
construction shown in the first photo follows the
original plans. There were to be two "Towers," one each
side of the grand stair case. Each with an elevator.
Your first photo shows the beginning of the northern
tower. I think what probably happened is that they
realized the "towers" blocked the views from the
grandstands. So they demolished the western portion and
left it open with just columns. Only one elevator was
constructed and it was an open cage running on vertical
rails. The eastern portion of the structure then became
the windowed structure you see in the photos of the
grand staircase. The funny thing is that the roof of the
baths was constructed to accommodate both elevators even
though only one was built.
A similar thing happened with the 1896 Cliff
House. The large dormers on the north and south sides
below the tower were not built according to plan. I
think someone realized that if they were built to plan
there would be no bearing walls for the tower. At least
that's what happened to my model when I built it "to
plan." I had to modify it using the photos of the
building. John" - John Hall 2008
The San Francisco Examiner - Feb 5 1893
GGNRA image (call #GOGA-1722)
- View looking south -
A J McDonald (ebay image)
A J McDonald (ebay image)
GGNRA’s Interpretive Slide Collection
1893 rock breakwater, SB-007,C-1 (GOGA Slide Coll)
Emiliano Echeverria Collection
(cropped version of the original photo, California Historical Society)
Adolph Sutro overlooking construction
Marilyn Blaisdell Collection
"THE SUTRO BATHS ARE RAPIDLY NEARING COMPLETION"
The Morning Call - 27 Aug 1893
California Historical Society (call # CHS 2013-1242)