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Sutro's Glass Palace: San Francisco’s Fabled Baths

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, February 15, 2024 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1NV073
This online program is presented on Zoom.
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Materials for this program

Interior of Sutro Baths in San Francisco, 1896

Like a majestic ocean liner or a grand hotel, the Victorian-era Sutro Baths dazzled visitors with its over-the-top opulence and its many attractions: seven swimming pools filled with heated seawater, museum exhibits, restaurants, tropical plants, promenades, and seating for thousands of spectators, all covered by more than 100,000 square feet of glass.

The creation of Comstock millionaire Adolph Sutro, this San Francisco landmark opened in 1894 and ended in fire in 1966. Once the debris was cleared, little remained of Sutro’s ambitious structure, which he intended to outshine the baths of Rome.

Today, visitors explore its concrete ruins and mysterious tunnels, which are protected by the National Park Service. Historian John Martini tells the fascinating story of a vanished but enduring piece of urban history, and answers the inevitable question: "What was this place?”

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