One thing I love about moving to a new city is all of the impending exploration. On a sunny Saturday we decided to take a drive to Lands End on the very northwest edge of San Francisco to explore the ruins of the Sutro Baths and the Labyrinth along the Pacific Ocean. What was once the world’s largest indoor public saltwater swimming pool is now fascinating ruins of crumbling stone corridors amidst a pale shade of murky pond water, and stairwells leading to nothing but sandbanks.
The Sutro Baths opened in 1986, created and developed by Adolph Sutro, a one-time mayer of San Francisco with a larger-than-life personality and ego. The cost to build was $1 million dollars. It was an extravagant public bathhouse equipped with 7 slides, 30 swinging rings, 517 private dressing rooms, a 2700-seat amphitheater, and an ice skating rink. By the 1960s the development was doing poorly and in the process of being demolished, was burned down completely. The fire was apparently started by arson. No culprit was named, but shortly thereafter the developer left town with a heavy insurance claim money. Coincidence? In 1980 the Golden Gate National Recreation Area bought the land for $5.5 million dollars.
We decided to venture along the upper trail and visit the Labyrinth, a group of rocks organized into 11 concentric circles, delicately maintained on an overhang off the Pacific Ocean. Eduardo Aguilera, a San Francisco local, created the work in 2004 and it is meant to be a sign for peace, love, and enlightenment for all. Though a bit windy, it was quite a peaceful view with the waves crashing into jutting out rocks below, and sailboats cruising beneath the massive Golden Gate Bridge. By the time we made it, our miniature bull terrier, Tusker, had had enough. He was ready for a nap and we had to practically drag him back to the car. As I write this he is now fast asleep in a sunny corner of our apartment. If you have a free afternoon, I'd highly suggest bringing lunch and enjoying a nice walk and view of the Pacific and the Golden Gate.