Today I want to continue my San Francisco series with a very special place which attracted me magically: Lands End. As its name implies, this place is the most northwestern corner of San Francisco and literally the end of the continent.
Lands End is a park within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area including the Ocean Beach, the Cliff House and the ruins of Sutro Baths. Plus you can find one of the best trails in San Francisco there: the Coastal Trail. You can start at the Cliff House and then walk easily along the shoreline until you reach the Golden Gate Bridge. Take a walk with me!
Ocean Beach runs along the west coast of San Francisco at the Pacific Ocean. The beach is well known for its strong currents and waves which makes it popular among serious surfers. The currents and the cold water (average temperatures of 50 F to 55 F (9 C to 12 C)) make the ocean dangerous for casual swimmers, and I assume that’s the reason why it is not crowded there.
North of the Beach above the cliffs, the Cliff House is located. Today, the Cliff House is restaurant with an amazing view and the best place to overlook the ruins of Sutro Baths but it has a long history which starts back in 1858. Over the years, the Cliff House was often rebuild for all different purposes. In 2003 it was extensively renovated and the building was restored to its 1909 appearance.
On the terrace you can find a room-sized camera obscura called Giant Camera. When the fourth Cliff House opened in 1937, Floyd Jennings had the idea of adding a camera obscura to the cliffs behind the restaurant. It was installed on the site in 1946 and has been in continuous operation since then.
Our next stop are the ruins of the Sutro Baths down at the Ocean. The Sutro Baths were built by Adolph Sutro in the 19th century and were opened on March 14, 1986 as the world’s largest indoor swimming pool etablissement. Facilities included six saltwater pools and one freshwater pool, as well as a museum displaying stuffed and mounted animals, historic artifacts and artwork and an ice skating rink! The building also had over 500 dressing rooms and a 2700 seat amphitheater.
The baths were 499.5 feet (152.2 m) long and 254.1 feet (77.4 m) wide for a capacity of 1,805,000 US gallons (6,830 m3). They were equipped with 7 slides, 30 swinging rings, and 1 springboard. During high tides, water would flow directly into the pools from the ocean. This place must have been just incredible…
Unfortunately, the Baths were closed in 1966 and destroyed in a fire shortly afterwards. Its ruins are now part of the park and can be easily be visited. Especially at sunset this place has something magical.