Historic Sutro Baths was the very first stop on my San Francisco sunset photo tour. Located at the westernmost point of Lands End, the Baths was a lavish 25,000-person swimming facility and museum built in the 19th century by former San Francisco mayor Adolph Sutro. It boasted six saltwater swimming tanks, 517 private dressing rooms, restaurants, and arcades, all enclosed by 100,000 square feet of glass. Sadly, all was destroyed by fire in 1966. Today, the foundations are still visible, and the site has been part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area since 1973.
Making our way onto the narrow ledges of the ruins to set up my tripod was a bit harrowing. Deep shadows, deep water, big drop-offs all around – can anyone say vertigo? But once set up, I had the opportunity to witness and photograph one of the three most stunning sunsets/sunrises I have ever seen. (The other two were in Hawaii – a sunset off the Kona-Kohala Coast; a sunrise viewed from atop Hawaii’s Haleakala Volcano.)
From my spot on the ruins, I pointed my camera south to photograph Seal Rocks while experimenting with water effects. I prefer the composition of the first, but the exposure of the second.
As I swung my camera back around, with the sun’s fading orange glow giving way to the evening’s blue hour, this is the scene that was waiting.
Sutro Baths, gone? Yes. Forgotten? As a popular spot for photographers, tourists, and romantic locals, I think not!
Thanks to Sally Mason of Little Hiccups for allowing me the use of her photo, Looking Over the Sutro Baths.
(My vantage point was near the two metal fences on the wider part of the foundation.)