If you're a san francisco native or a photography enthusiast based out of SF bay, this extravagant public bathhouse would'nt sound alien to you.
The Modern day ruin but Once upon a time a place for amusement, hosting one of a kind luxurious swimming and bathing complex has gone to many before finally falling in to the hands of National Park Service, as part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
I will always wonder how much fun it would have been, having a pool side party at the edge of a continent, with stunning views of Golden Gate to your right and endless beach to your left, and and pacific ocean's wave come crashing on you. sounds like a dreams isn't it? ( Rich Pleasure or as Jerry Flamm relates in his book, "Good Life in Hard Times")
Well from a dreamer's or certain photographer's point of view, who always seem to have a thing of ruins, Sutro baths is now more photogenic then ever. I mean from whatever few photographs and video clips are available of this place, including one and only movie which featured this place before its death, one could tell that history has it as a natatorium with various pools and as many ways to slide in to them so who knows had the structure hid the beauty lying outside or it did actually enhanced the same.
In any case, its a wonderful place for a evening stroll, and for casual to serious photography, so if you find a bunch of photographers holding their tripods and DSLRs, regardless of when you visit, dont get surprised.
I wouldnt dive much in to history, as I have already linked this post to Sutro's official site and the wiki links, which has got pretty good info about its past. and If you visit Sutro, you can read a few signposts that describe its history from the the golden age till its destruction by fire.
One of these days when I got tired of walking around Pier 39, with a pure thought of exploring and a simple evening stroll I walked up to this place, only to be amazed by its breathtaking natural beauty.
I took a few test shots with iPhone4S, luckily I liked the above ones and few more for their distinctive compositions, but, should I'd been upset over not carrying my DSLR and lenses and tripods and plan it properly, you bet I was. with a mixture of ruins, ocean high tides, rocks, and edgy placements of these all together, i mean that some one who has patience and a plan, can create some of the best slow-shutter, long exposure images at this place. here are some of my favoites from flickr mostly been shot in the blue hours and the moonlight, and couple of em which i couldn't embed are here in the gallery.
With no comparison whatsoever to DSLR, I'd say iPhone as well can take some excellent shot, considering the timing but place deserve a serious shoot with a good DSLR and as you can see, I have been dying to do it soon. till then...!!
( P.S. first four are the iPhone4S shots, I clicked, the second is now part of Getty Images USA. the bottom three photos are direct flickr embeds, and are copyrights of their respective owners. you can click the photo to reach the originating pages).
(P.S. 2 - Ah, I just now realized i pretty much forgot to mention anything about the cliff house. I actually dint get inside, rather walked up and down towards the ocean beach before heading back home. the Giant Camera shot with flowers highlighted in the foreground is behind the cliff house, and mostly neglected. as the sun was about to set, I got pretty nice red color peeking through the rock on which the cliff house is been built. the third shot is from a closeby point towards the left. )